Divorce is devastating but those who suffer most are the children. New relationships can be built but children only get one set of parents. All research shows two-parent households are better in every measurable way for kids. Academics, self-esteem, and mental health, are all at risk when faced with divorce. Yet, that doesn’t mean children of divorce have to come in at a distant second. There’re four things you can do to close these gaps to protect your kids.
Rule 1 – Equal Time: Moms are not the ideal parent and nor are dads. Both are essential but in different ways. Moms, through nurturance and receptivity engender compassion and the value of fairness. Dads, through teasing, boundary setting, and rough and tumble play de-fragilize children. They instill emotion regulation skills. These skills are key to manage anger and sadness. They also reduce mental health problems and increase mastery over issues like ADHD. You have to split up equal time with mom and dad 50/50 so kids can absorb each parent’s unique benefits.
Rule 2 – No Bad Mouthing: This one’s tough. People divorce for crushing reasons. Broken dreams, betrayal, and resentment. These feelings are legitimate. But, when there’s children the person you’re bad mouthing is their parent. That can be devastating to their fundamental identity.
Rule 3 – Therapy: dialogue, negotiation, and compromise are essential to raise children. The rub is that it’s these parts of the relationship that were the source of so much pain. That’s why enlisting a couple’s therapist is important. Sometimes parents can learn these skills on their own. More often, a therapist is vital to contain these problems.
Rule 4 – Live Close: The 50/50 split shouldn’t sacrifice a child’s social life. School, friends, and routine are the basis of a kid’s self-esteem. This means living close by to not break your child’s life in two. How far is too far? 15-minute travel time is pushing it. That means different things for different places. In America, that’s a 15-minute car ride. In Jerusalem that’s a 15-minute walk.
Sometimes divorce is the only thing left to do to preserve one’s sense of wellbeing. To say it’s not easy is an understatement. Despite that, it doesn’t have to be the cause of further pain in your life or the lives of your children. These four rules will ensure that everyone’s life moves forward despite the challenges divorce presents.