Whenever parents seek advice about helping their children adjust to the fallout of divorce, they are, more often then not, instructed about what not to do rather than provided with useful ideas about how to behave in a positive manner to the benefit of their children. They are typically told: “Don’t put your children in the middle of conflict between you and your ex”; or, “Don’t badmouth the other parent.” Although such advice has its place, it nevertheless assumes a deficit perspective in relation to divorcing parents, and overlooks parents’ good faith efforts and capacity to do the best for their children, given a little support. Many such prescriptions also fall short in regard to offering concrete, practical steps that parents can take to enable their children to not only cope with the divorce, but flourish in its aftermath.
In this article, Edward Kruk offers the following principles in the spirit that parents have the strengths, capacities and abilities to help children through the difficult transitions attendant to divorce, and will be able do the best for their children with concrete, practical support.
1. Be there for your children, both physically and emotionally.
2. Talk with your children about the divorce.
3. Let children be children.
4. Support the other parent’s role and relationship with your children.
5. Speak about and act in a respectful manner toward the other parent, especially in front of your children.
6. Wherever possible, maintain open communication channels with the other parent.
7. Maintain your child’s community of support.
8. Educate yourself about children’s needs, co-parenting options, and community resources.
9. Seek out formal and informal sources of co-parenting support.
10. Maintain your own health and well-being as a priority.