Are you concerned about what divorce does to children? Then you’re on the right path. The lives of children are often turned upside down by the divorce of their parents. Yet, there are actions you can take to soften the impact of divorce on your children.
Your Choices Impact What Divorce Does to Children
Sometimes, it’s what you choose not to do as much as what you choose to do that makes a difference to your children. So let’s focus there today. What’s one dangerous pattern that you can choose not to fall into?
You May Not Realize You’re What You’re Doing to Children of Divorce
Maybe you are doing it, maybe you aren’t. Yet with the emotions of divorce people can easily slip into a dangerous pattern. So I encourage you to ask yourself, “Do I ever use my children to get back at or manipulate my ex-spouse?
It can go something like this, “No you cannot go to dinner with your dad. He’s late with his child-support payment again.” Or, “If you want to take them to the mountains this weekend, I’ll need you to return my lawnmower.” Perhaps you make a decision that is rooted in a resentment, such as, “I don’t like how the courts settled our property so I’ve changed my mind about paying for half of the prom dress, your mom can pay for all of it.”
Does any of this sound remotely familiar? If so, you are using your kids as weapons against their other parent and it’s not a pretty game to play. Why?
Well, here are three good reasons for not using your children to get back at or to manipulate your ex-spouse:
- It Hurts Your Children— Being used does not feel like being loved and it is neither fair nor appropriate to put your children in the middle of adult issues. Divorce is in fact an adult issue and needs to be handled by adults without using the children.
- It Causes Grief—Children can feel forced to choose sides between two people who are both their parents. This creates grief and an awkward situation for your children. Children shouldn’t have to feel like they must join one side of the battle or the other. It’s not their war.
- It Robs Your Children—Children need to be free to love both parents. Putting kids in the middle steals their right to have a relationship with each parent that is respected by the other parent.
What Divorce Does to Children: The Words of a Teenager
This teenager sums it up nicely:
Mom, to you he’s your ex-husband and someone you’re mad at. To me…well, he’s my daddy and still I love him.”
Make a Choice
No matter the age of your children, decide today to get serious about never using them as pawns in your relationship with their other parent. Setting aside your own emotions about your former or soon-to-be former spouse when it comes to parenting isn’t easy. It takes focus not to let those emotions seep into your co-parenting interactions. Make the choice a conscious one and you can reduce the sense of turmoil in the lives of your children.
…parents are the pride of their children.
Proverbs 17:6 NIV
Talk with God
Father, I still find myself frustrated with my ex at times. I have a right to those feelings but it can make it really hard to stay neutral when trying to co-parent. Even so, my children need a positive relationship with both of their parents. Please give me the wisdom to see where I fall short. Help me act in a way that keeps my personal feelings about my ex from undermining my children’s need to have a positive relationship with their other parent. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Is Divorce Creating Stress in Your Life?
One of the best things parents can do to reduce the negative impact of divorce on their children is to work on healing from divorce themselves. Joining a Peace after Divorce Workshop group or reading the book Peace after Divorce can be very helpful to you. Learn more by clicking one of the links above or look for a group near you by clicking HERE.
If there isn’t a group near you, talk with someone at your church about starting a Peace after Divorce group to serve your church and community. They can learn more HERE on our website.