You have the right to be happy; getting a divorce may be essential to making that happen. No one should deny you the opportunity for a long and happy life. But divorce creates tremendous stress and chaos for you and everyone around you, especially your children.
If you have kids, you and your soon-to-be ex already know that you are still a family even though your marriage is over. Despite your differences, you need to be a team when it comes to co-parenting. It’s crucial to protect these fundamental rights for your children steadfastly.
The right to a happy childhood with two devoted parents
As a parent, there is no greater purpose than providing your kids with a loving, safe and comfortable environment. Divorce can make that challenging, but as long as both of you put your children first and maintain close, positive relationships with them, studies show kids can quickly adapt to their new reality and not just cope but thrive.
The right to remain connected to extended family
While divorce may drive a wedge between you and your in-laws, children deserve to remain close to beloved family members on both sides. Just as you never want to badmouth your ex-spouse in front of your kids, don’t say bad things about the other parent’s parents, grandparents aunts, uncles or siblings or try to influence how your children feel about them.
Instead, be proactive and make every effort to maintain these relationships. If you don’t get along with some or most of your former in-laws, find a workable solution to keep those connections strong for your kids. This can include taking your child to your former sister-in-law’s home for a birthday party or having your former mother-in-law babysit.
The right to live free from conflict
Successful co-parenting means your children should never be burdened by arguments or tension between you and your ex. While it’s perfectly understandable (and even healthy) to vent to a close friend or relative, your kids should never be used as a sounding board for these feelings. Also, they should never be used as messengers to deliver snarky communications to the other parent.
Encourage openness and honesty
Chances are high that your children will struggle to cope with your divorce, especially right after they find out. Emphasize that both parents deeply love them and ask them to share their feelings. Don’t deflect their questions but avoid sharing all the intimate details about what caused the divorce. As long as you and your co-parent remain united in your effort to protect them and put their needs first, children can handle this transition positively and robustly.