Your Child's Perspective
Your child’s thinking and their needs are as follows: “ I love Mom,... I love Dad.” Young children will not worry about the mortgage, which car you drive or how big your house is, nor most of the things you worry about. They want to spend time with Dad. They want to spend time with Mom. They want their mother and father to not fight. The children do not want to take sides. Their needs are simpler than yours. All the explaining in the world may not make them emotionally accept your view.
Your child may miss the other parent even if you don’t. They do not want you to talk badly about the other parent. They do not want to know the details of the divorce. They do not want to be made to pick a parent. If you ask them to pick, you may traumatize them. Some judge’s consider a parent making the child choose “emotional abuse.” Many times it is unnecessary to ask a child anything about custody.
THINGS YOU CAN DO for your child:
1. Stay involved with your child.
2. Keep the other parent involved.
3. If the other parent is saying bad things ask for a court order to make them stop and make them take a parenting class.
4. Make a point of being there for your child during your time and as opportunities present themselves when it is not your time.
5. Stay positive about the other parent in your child’s presence even though you don’t want to.
6. Let go of your anger towards the other parent as soon as you can for your child’s sake.
7. Teach your child to love both parents and both parents love the child no matter how each may feel about the other.
THINGS NOT TO DO:
1. Don’t call the police on your family matters. This will traumatize your child. Instead ask the family law judge to correct a problem. Most of the time the police will not correct a family problem anyway. Police are not allowed to act as a judge or jury on the street in a family law matter. Most of the time they will refer you to your family law attorney. One exception to not calling the police is if you are in immediate physical danger.
2. Don’t talk about your dislike for your spouse to others who have no fight in your divorce, i.e., teachers, babysitters, some of your children’s friends parents, even some other family members. This will result in your child not being invited or welcomed to their home because you have trained others to be uncomfortable with one of the parents. You have trained them to take sides or trained to avoid you because they do not want to take sides. Others simply stay away from you and the other parent. When this happens it is your child who suffers due to your talking. Talking may be therapeutic to you but be selective whom you have therapy with, and choose those who may not unintentionally harm your child because they may choose to stay away from your problems.
3. Do not alienate your child from the other parent. Don’t make it so a child is not free to love the other parent. To do so is not real love for the child. This means letting the other parent spend time with the child even when it is not convenient, or even when you don’t want to. The test is "What does your child need or want?".
4. Don’t introduce any boyfriends or girlfriends into your child’s life for a long while after separation.
5. If you are the custodial parent, then don’t let the non-custodial parent fail to pay child support after divorce. If he/she fails to pay then, they will not be able to look at you nor be able to pick up their child for visitation for fear of the collection process. The result of your letting the other parent not pay child support may be the child loses a parent. A parent paying child support is more likely to feel invested in the child, and may be there more as a support (emotionally and physically) for the child.