After 37+ years of experience with litigation and over 20 years of experience with child custody and family law issues here in Central Ohio, and based in part on my own personal experience I thought it might be important to share a few tips on how to protect your own children’s interest when they visit the “other” parent after a divorce. Some of these things seem counter-intuitive as a parent, but this is about what is in the best interests of the children:
- Don’t Tell Your Child(ren) How Much You Will Miss Them When They Are With the Other Parent
Children of divorce feel a lot of pressure to keep both of their parents “happy” after a divorce, and telling them how much you’ll miss them (how unhappy you are that they are gone) puts more pressure on the children as they will worry about you and how unhappy or alone they may perceive you to be while they are gone.
- Don’t Ask Questions About What Was Said While They Were Visiting the Other Home
Children are much more aware of things than we often give them credit for, and asking these types of questions may make them feel manipulated, or that you are prying. Divorce is hard enough without them feeling like they are in the middle, or that you might be trying to get them to divulge information. Remember that your children want both of you to be happy, and don’t need to be put into the middle of adult games.
- DO Encourage Them to Have a Great Time
Encourage your child(ren) to have a great time at the other home, and reassure them that you will be fine. Don’t begrudge them if they are unable to take a call while they are over at the other home, or make them feel guilty because they didn’t check in with you or try to talk to you in between.
Divorce is a traumatic experience for the kids, and regardless of what is happening at the other home you want them to feel your love, and continue to build a strong relationship based upon mutual trust and support. Extending that respect and support to your child after a divorce enhances your own relationship with your kids.