- DO tell your children they are still loved and that they are not getting divorced from their parents. Remind your children that they still have the right to love each of their parents. They don’t need to choose sides.
- DO encourage your children to communicate with you about how they are feeling. Your children may feel angry, sad, or confused, and they have the right to have these feelings. Keep an open line of communication so they know they have a safe space to express their feelings.
- DO maintain as many family traditions as possible. Although your family is experiencing significant change, keeping these traditions maintains a sense of comfort and calm.
- DO work with the other parent to present a united front on handling problems with your children. Be willing to discuss parental matters with your co-parent in a reasonable, businesslike, and courteous manner. Try your best to work together for the benefit of your children.
- DO encourage your children to continue good relationships with the other parent’s extended family. Support your children’s relationships with both sets of grandparents and extended family.
- DON’T discuss any court related matters with your children (meaning custody, child support, parenting time, or financial issues). Likewise, if you know your spouse is discussing court matters with the children, kindly ask him or her to stop. A judge may also order you and your spouse to refrain from discussing legal matters with or in front of your children.
- DON’T exhibit angry feelings toward the other parent in front of your children. Don’t allow your relational difficulties with and emotions towards your co-parent affect decisions regarding your children and parenting time. Make every attempt not to argue or speak negatively of each other to, or in the presence of, your children.
- DON’T bring your new significant other around your children during the divorce process, and until the relationship has progressed to the point of becoming a meaningful relationship. This is a time of upheaval for everyone involved. Talk with your children (and co-parent) and use your best judgment to determine when an introduction is appropriate. Remember, it’s what’s in your children’s best interests, not yours.
- DON’T withhold parenting time with your children from the other parent unless the child is in danger. Your children have the right to have a relationship with each parent. Don’t use parenting time as a means of punishment for the other parent. Respect your parenting plan.
- DON’T ask your children for secrets regarding the other parent. Your children will be processing enough during this time of change. Don’t put them in the position of “telling on” their other parent. It’s unfair to them.