Once your divorce is finalized and you’re finally free to restart your life, your children will likely want to talk to you about the separation and the other parent. When you’re sharing custody, getting frustrating news through your child or having them relay your private conversations with them to the other parent can be upsetting. Here are a few tips to help you safely talk with your kids about your divorce and your ex and avoid involving Albuquerque or Santa Fe divorce lawyers.
Remember: What You Say Will Always Get Back to Your Ex
As a parent, you’re undoubtedly familiar with children repeat things they’ve heard said to, or around, them. As cute or funny as this may be in a viral internet video, it can have a vastly different effect when it’s reality in a child custody situation.
Given this, you should always be careful what your child(ren) can hear you say. Heated conversations or disparaging remarks can not only be repeated by children, they can be very damaging to children who love both parents equally. Negative discussions about or to the other parent, discussions about custody or other adult topics should always be held out of earshot of children. Depending on the severity, remarks heard by, or made to, children can result in legal battles or custody determinations.
Consider Your Words Carefully
After a divorce or a custody order, you can expect to be asked questions by your child(ren) about your relationship, the other parent and/or your thoughts about them. Although you may not have a high opinion of your ex, you should avoid telling your child(ren) as much. As easy as it would be to respond with your true thoughts and feelings, you’re more likely to cause damage to yourself or your child(ren). Children should be encouraged to have a loving and trusting relationship with the other parent, even if you think the other parent is dishonest or just generally a bad person. Keep in mind that just because a divorce has been finalized, child custody can always be modified. Inappropriate or damaging conversations are often the basis for modifying custody to protect the child(ren) from further harm to themselves or to the parent-child relationship.
Speaking frankly with a child about their other parent and your opinions of them or keeping them too informed about the custody proceedings that involve them can backfire horribly. If you have to speak with your child about the other parent or about custody, always do so with a positive twist and try only to keep them informed only as much as they need to be. Discuss what’s necessary in the kindest way possible until your child(ren) is an adult and can analyze the situation for themselves.
Create a Healthy Environment Around Communication
As a parent, it’s up to you to help your child grow up with healthy coping skills and mindset. During the divorce process or the aftermath of it, you’ll need to create a healthy space where your child can feel comfortable and safe talking about their feelings and thoughts about the situation. However, it is often the case that children do not understand their feelings about a divorce or separation or feel confused about how much they can speak with you about how they’re feeling. On top of that, it can be extremely difficult to create a “safe space” independently. It is always advisable to get your children into therapy and work with their therapist to create a space where your child(ren) feel safe to express how they’re feeling and where they can feel supported. Therapists additionally can help you with how you can help your children feel comfortable and help you feel well-equipped to respond to and process what you hear.
Take Your Child’s Concerns Seriously
The biggest fear of a divorced parent is finding out that their ex is neglecting or abusing their child. While you should always view what your child says through the lens of their age and the fact that children can sometimes exaggerate or misstate what they mean, you should take such allegations seriously. If what you’re hearing is leading you to believe that there may be abuse or neglect taking place, it’s worth a confrontation with the other parent to gauge whether your child is communicating what is happening accurately or a call to an attorney to either try to resolve situation or take further action. In the case of an emergency, the police or CYFD should be called.
Get the legal guidance you need to protect yourself and the wellbeing of your child. No matter what stage of the divorce process you’re in, contact the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer and our team of Albuquerque divorce attorneys will be there for you. Stand up for what you and your child deserve and contact us today.