During divorce, one of the hardest parts will be deciding what to do with your children. Fighting over your children has the ability to turn genuinely caring parents into strangers at war.
You and your ex need to remember that children are not pieces of furniture to be won. You need to keep your childrens’ best interests at the centre of all discussions and arrangements.
While there are a lot of right ways to approach mediation, today I am focusing on the wrong ways to do it. Below are three things to avoid when mediating arrangements for your children.
1. Bad Mouthing Your Ex
It can seem harmless- maybe you make a remark about your ex to a friend and your children are in the room. While it is a relief to get your thoughts out or to have a rant- be careful when, where and who you do this with.
Speaking poorly of your ex in front of your children will cause them distress. Your kids love you both, they don’t want to hear about why you think your ex is a terrible person. Furthermore, and especially if they are young, they do not understand the intricacies of marriage. Don’t undermine your ex is to your kids, this could have a profound impact on their relationship with you or your ex, especially as they get older.
Remember, children are surprisingly perceptive. As they get older and start to understand behaviour, they will see the situation for what it is. You do not need to tell them that their other parent abandoned them or betrayed you or did something awful- they will understand this with time.
Another important consequence to consider is, if you should end up in court, that the court looks poorly on the parent that is badmouthing the other. They understand the impact that this behavior can have on children. So, best to steer clear.
2. Guilting Your Children
This behavior is referred to by the family court as attempting to align a child’s views to those of one parent or parental alienation.
Some examples of guilting your children, look like:
- Allowing your child to see you crying excessively after interacting with your ex;
- Telling your child that the other parent ‘abandoned’ you
- Telling your child that the other parent is taking you to court; or
- Telling your child you have no money because of the other parent
The list is endless and I have seen some of the most well-meaning people engage in this way.
While it is easy to consider leaning on your teenage child’s shoulder for emotional comfort, remember that your children are looking to you for guidance, not the other way around. If you’re having trouble with managing your feelings just this time, give this blog post a read.
The damage that this can do to your children can be great and in a lot of cases cannot be undone. As above, if you do find yourself in court for a parenting agreement, courts will not look at this sort of behaviour favourably.
3. Avoiding Have Conversations With Your Ex
When you split up with your ex, they may be the last person you want to talk to.
While you may have thousands of valid reasons to ignore your ex, you have one reason to talk to your ex that trumps all the rest- your children. This should take precedence over all other justifications for not speaking to them.
Your children need you to communicate. When separated parents cannot communicate or co-parent effectively, children can feel torn between two people and two worlds. But when you and your ex-spouse can speak to each other and agree on how to parent, your children will have a united parenting front, they will have consistency and they will feel safe. When you and your ex learn to communicate freely and easily, your children will thrive.
Furthermore, the law requires you to try mediation with your ex to sort our property and parenting orders first. This means tat you will have to at least try and talk to your ex-spouse. This is where having the assistance and expertise of an experienced mediator will come in handy.
To get in touch with me about my mediation services, click here. I am an empathetic and diligent mediator that will help all parties reach the best possible outcome for their dispute.
I’ll leave you with this thought: your children’s best interests need to be at the centre always.
It’s easy for your own agenda to take centre stage, but whenever you are about to make a decision or take action ask yourself:
“Is what I am about to do truly in the best interests of my child or is this to appease me?”
While going through separation is painful for both parents and co-parenting can be awkward, you will get you and your kids through this process as smoothly as possible.
For an empathetic lawyer who will be by your side every step of the way and understands family law separations and divorces- get in touch with Shane McClure.
Shane helps people who are separated break free from their ex and move forward with their life, so they can live a stress-free life and enjoy life once again. Click here to contact us and stay tuned for future blog posts that will tell you the three things to avoid in other divorce processes.