There is no question that divorce is often difficult for children. It is one of several adverse childhood events that can impact their social, emotional and even physical health for years to come. As a loving parent, you undoubtedly want to minimize the negative impact on your children of your marriage ending.
The good news is that so long as your spouse is reasonable and willing to put the children first, it is entirely possible to shield your children from the worst aspects of divorce. Even if you cannot get through to your former spouse about the importance of protecting your children, you can take steps on your own to minimize how the level of conflict to which they get exposed during your divorce proceedings.
Stay positive about their other parent
Unless there are serious issues with abuse or addiction, you should not discuss divorce issues with your children. Explaining to them that you and your spouse are going separate ways is fine. Telling them the details of each late child support payment or affair is not.
In general, you want to stay positive and supportive when it comes to your children's relationships with their other parent. Encourage them to have fun, and do not expect them to choose between their parents. Instead, make it clear that you love them, as does their other parent. Let them know that you support their having a healthy, loving relationship with your ex. Do not do anything to limit or infringe upon visitation times between your child and their other parent.
Keep your children out of the divorce
While the judge may want to speak to the children about their preferences, if you and your ex agree to fully shared custody, that can spare your children the stress of needing to make a specific preference known. Keeping your children out of the custody battle is only one way of shielding them from the actual divorce proceedings.
You must also take care not to intentionally or unintentionally use your children as weapons against your ex. It may be tempting to ask your children many questions about the behavior and living situation of your ex after each visit. After all, your children may unwittingly provide information that could help you in court. Simply put, it is not appropriate to put your children in that position.
Accepting the divorce with grace and keeping your children out of it is in the best interest of everyone. Not only will it protect your children from the negative emotions you experience as a divorcing spouse, but it will also limit their internal conflict about the divorce. The less involved your children are, the less potential guilt or anger they will have regarding the split.
Choosing not to talk poorly about your ex, encouraging a healthy relationship and keeping your children out of the divorce process are all good ideas. They can help minimize how stressful and painful the divorce is on your children.