There are multiple aspects of divorce that are hard on children. Adjusting to living in new spaces and the change to their weekly schedules will be one challenge. Handling the change that the divorce creates in their dynamic with each of their parents will be another concern.
For many children and teenagers, the biggest source of stress and emotional damage when parents divorce is the conflict between their parents and the feeling that they can’t make either parent happy. Adults often put their children in the middle of custody matters, multiplying the negative impact of the divorce on the kids.
What are three behaviors that put your children in the middle of your custody disputes?
Belittling your ex
It is natural to feel frustrated with a co-parent who cancels at the last minute or treats you disrespectfully during custody exchanges. However, if you point those issues out to your children, you may alter how they feel about their other parent or even how they feel about you.
Beyond the damage it may cause to the children’s perception of the other parent, such negative talk could also leave you vulnerable to claims of intentional parental alienation, which could affect your custody rights.
Forcing them to choose
When parents litigate custody matters, a Colorado family law judge decides how to divide parental rights and responsibilities. If the children and the family are sufficiently mature, a judge may ask their opinion on the matter.
The child may worry extensively about stating such preferences, and yet their wishes will only be one of many factors a judge considers when establishing a division of parental rights and responsibilities they feel is in the best interests of the child. Making a child choose can be particularly stressful, which is why it may be easier on the kids if the parents can negotiate their own custody arrangements.
Splitting everything instead of learning to share again
Your negative feelings toward one another are completely natural, but you have to find a way to set them aside and make the children your top priority, especially on important days for the children. Birthdays, high school graduation and holidays are just a few examples of special days where children will feel particularly upset about conflict between their parents or the absence of one of their parents.
Trying to think of ways that you and your ex can become comfortable cooperating as co-parents can take the pressure off of your children and will make shared custody arrangements easier for your family.