Divorce Is Hard on Everyone - Especially Children
Parents choose to divorce - children have no choice. Therefore, it is very important to always keep the focus on your children's best interest. When parents focus on what is best for them, what they want, or getting revenge/being spiteful, rather than on the best interest of their children, it can often cause more trauma and challenges for their children experiencing the divorce of their parents.
In divorce mediation, parents need to resolve the living arrangements and time-sharing for the children. When one parent moves out of the family's home, leaving their kids behind can be very difficult. The parent may want the children to live with them because they will miss them and can’t bear being separated. Unfortunately, when a marriage is over there is no way that both parents can continue to see their children 100% of the time. Although I fully understand how difficult the decisions about your children after the divorce will be, these are a few ways to make sure you are keeping your children’s best interest in mind when going through mediation.
Ask Yourself Why You Truly Want Something?
When thinking about dividing up assets, property, money, and time-sharing with your children, it’s easy to get caught up in wanting more than your spouse. I also suggest that each parent always ask them self: “why do I truly want what I want?” If the reason is primarily so that your spouse can’t have “it,” then you are not focusing on your children’s best interests. If the reason is mainly so that your child will want to be with you more than his/her other parent, then you are not focusing on your children’s best interests.
Be Mindful To Focus On What's Best For Your Children – Not Just You!
Ask Yourself If Your Children Are Really Benefiting?
Parenting Plan's incorporate decisions such as: where my children will live; where they will go to school; and when they will be spending time with each parent. I always encourage parents to ask themself: will my son/daughter truly benefit from my position or desired outcome? Over the course of conducting many mediations with a variety of couples, I often notice parents tend to focus their decision-making on what they want or need. It’s easy for divorcing parents to get so caught up emotionally in their divorce that they tend to make decisions without really thinking about the children. In every decision concerning a minor child, parents should focus on the unique needs of their child (and in the case of multiple children, on the specific needs of each individual child) and what is in their best interests. For example, will it benefit your child if the parent that the child lives with the majority of the time does not have a car? Lives in a one-bedroom apartment? Works overnight shifts? Travels extensively during the month?
Be Mindful That The Children's Needs Are Paramount – Not Yours!
Ask Yourself If The Children Are Hearing Kind Words About The Other Parent?
Mindfulness is essential to communication. Always keep your children in the back of your thoughts when communicating with your spouse (their other parent). When speaking to your spouse, speak to them the way you would if your child was present and listening. It is natural to feel a range of feelings and emotions about the divorce and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. It is perfectly fine to find an effective place to process and express those negative feelings and thoughts. However, around your children, you should always be respectful, even when you are emotional, and remember that you are speaking about your child's other parent - whom they love. Mindfulness with also help you to stay level headed, have good focus, and remain calm.
Be Mindful That Your Child Loves Both Parents – Not Just You!
Ask Yourself If You Are Truly Being Open-Minded?
You and your spouse once made a talented team. You need to be open to negotiating and making decisions about your children’s future together. Many couples benefit from family counseling after or during a divorce. Realizing you will need to be open-minded to compromise is the first step to negotiating in good-faith about the best interests of your children.
Be Mindful On Being Fair and Reasonable – Not Just Focused On You!
Ask Yourself If You Are Listening To Your Children?
If your son or daughter is old enough to express their desire, take that into consideration. Young children do not always know what is best for them. As they get older, they know what they want and will tell you. Take their wants and needs into consideration when you are making decisions that will be permanent. Showing them respect now will reap rewards in the future.