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Divorce conflict and your children: Dos and don'ts

Divorce can be difficult for everyone, especially for your children. When parents argue, whether it is subdued bitterness or a full blown court battle, this can significantly affect them.

Conflict can sometimes be inevitable during a divorce, as emotions are running high. There are measures you can take, however to shield your children from parental disputes during and after the divorce process.

The following is a list of dos and don'ts for dealing with parental conflicts while still protecting your children. You can use this list as a jumping off point for creating your own co-parenting rules.

Do

  • Effectively resolve temporary conflicts around your children - Demonstrate that disagreements are normal and that you can work together to resolve them, rather than just yell at each other.
  • Cooperate and collaborate instead of fight - Instead of trying to "win" arguments with your co-parent, try to meet in the spirit of cooperation.
  • Allow your children full access to your co-parent - Let your children communicate with the other parent when they want to, and allow visitation and custody to occur as agreed upon.
  • Consider co-parenting counseling - If you feel disagreements regarding parenting cannot be resolved between you and your co-parent, a professional may be able to help you reach resolution.

Don't

  • Hold on to grudges and continued conflicts - Repeated, frequent and angry exchanged do not resolve arguments.
  • Put your children in the middle - Don't try to get your children to pick sides or favor you over the other parent.
  • Talk about your co-parent or discuss the details of the divorce - Your children are not your friends, so do not "vent" to them about the divorce or say negative things about the other parent in anger. Do not discuss these topics within hearing range of your children either.
  • Turn your children into messengers or spies - Do not send written or verbal messages with your children to deliver to their other parent. Also, do not ask your children to tell you details about their other parent's life.

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