Divorce is never easy, and it becomes even harder when there are children involved. Parenting after a divorce is one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent. Parents all want what is best for their children, and it can be hard to see sons and daughters go through the pain of a divorce.
Not only do parents have to deal with their own emotions throughout a divorce, but they have to make sure that their children survive the ordeal as well. It can be hard to maintain the role of a parent throughout because they are consumed with feelings of guilt and pain. They are constantly asking themselves whether they made the right decision or whether they are hurting their children in the process. Guilt can be an easy emotion to succumb to, and it may make a parent feel like they should be more lenient on their children.
There are a lot of mistakes that a parent can make throughout the process without even realizing it. These mistakes can also make the situation more distressing for the child. Check out these 20 blunders divorced parents make (and they don’t even realize it).
20 Badmouthing The Other Parent
Even if you dislike your ex-spouse, you have to remember that your children still love both of their parents. It may be hard but you have to remain respectful of the other parent when you are around your children. You may not realize it but it hurts your children when you name call their father or mother. They don’t understand the adult dynamics of why you aren’t together and they don’t want to hear the other parent being trampled on. You can be causing your child more emotional distress because they will feel as if they have to defend the other parent. Don’t put that on them.
19 Not Being Honest About The Child’s Behavior
It’s hard when we see our children struggling but we don’t want to admit that they are doing it in our own house. We may insist to others, “He always acts great at my house. I don’t know why he acts out at your house.” That can be a dangerous game to play because it’s really not helping your child. You also don’t want to hide trouble form the other parent. You don’t want to say to your child, “We won’t tell Mom that you got in trouble at school, OK?” Keeping secrets leaves your child with unhealthy messages.
18 They Have Misplaced Resentment
There are a lot of emotions that come when you get divorced, and bitterness is one of them. Regardless of what you are feeling, you can’t let those feelings transfer to your children. It just wouldn’t be fair. You may find that your child has some of the characteristics that your spouse possesses and that can trigger you during an argument with your child. Your child is not your ex-spouse and that needs to be remembered so that your child doesn’t grow to resent you and vice versa. You don’t want your hostility to be projected onto your child.
17 They Are Determined To Be The Favorite Parent
When you are going through a divorce, it may be tempting to play the favorite with your child. You know that he will be visiting your ex-spouse at some point and you want news to get back that your child thinks your place is super awesome. Your child may use some of this stuff against you by saying, “Dad doesn’t make me study spelling words!” It can be tempting to bend the rules to make your child happy but that’s not the best course of action. You can be easily pitted against your spouse if you allow your child to make their own rules.
16 Running Down The Other Parent’s Discipline Methods
When your child spends time at your ex’s house, you are bound to hear about things that are going on over there. You may find out that Dad let’s your son watch R-rated movies and that could make you pretty mad. It may make you want to complain about how Dad disciplines the child and all the other poor choice’s he has made over the years. But that would be a mistake. Expressing displeasure about your ex-spouse to your child is not cool. Your child doesn’t want to hear back things about his Dad and will just hurt him. Just tell your child that the rules at Dad’s house don’t follow him back to your house.
15 Using The Children As A Pawn
Some parents like to continue to cause pain to their ex after the divorce. They can easily do that through their children. Using a child as a pawn to hurt your ex can come in many different ways. It could be in the form of manipulating the child’s affections, one-upmanship of gifts, special outings or exotic holidays. You could even use the way you parent to upset the other one. You could feed your child junk food because you know it will tick off your ex. It’s important that you not do this because your child shouldn’t be used this way.
14 Spoiling Special Moments
You are bound to see your ex at events that involve your child whether that is a sporting event or a Christmas play. Your child wants to see both of his parents at the play or to see him land that goal at the hockey game. It can be tempting to bring up that last argument you had on the phone with your ex but there is a time and a place. Don’t spoil a special event with your child because you are angry with your ex. Children are sensitive to things like this and it’s not fair for you to cause a scene at an event that is all about them.
13 Feeling Sorry For The Child
It’s not fair to feel sorry for your child because they are a product of divorce. You may feel bad for what they are going through but that doesn’t mean you make the rules more lenient. It can be easy to think that your child is going through something right now so why not let them have all the video games they want. But it’s not a great idea. You could be creating a victim mentality which will affect your child in the future. You have to work out the hard feelings with your child, instead of allowing bad behavior just because there’s a divorce.
12 Making Children The Mediators
Some divorces go better than others. We see Gwyneth Paltrow having her ex-husband over for Thanksgiving dinner. But that’s not always the case; some divorces have both parties unable to communicate with each other at all. Instead, they make the children carry messages back and forth so they don’t have to speak directly to their ex. Forcing your child to be in the middle of the two of you can be very damaging. You are asking your child to have adult conversations and to do tasks that they can’t even handle themselves. This causes unnecessary stress on the child.
11 Treating Children Like They Are Adults
You have to remember that your children are still children throughout a divorce. That means they cannot be your confidant when you want to talk about your ex. It can be tempting to lean on your child for emotional support during a trying time. You can’t treat your child as a therapist and even though it’s tempting to start confessing things about your marriage and divorce, it could be devastating to your child. You need to support your child and get them through the divorce. You need to be strong for your child and leave out the personal details of the divorce.
10 Allowing Guilt To Invade Into Parenting
So you got a divorce and you feel guilty for what your children are going through. It’s tough. Even parents who are good at laying down the law can feel the pressure after a divorce. You can see that a mess has been caused because of the divorce and all you want is for your child to be happy again. You may allow your child to stay up later or not have to do the dishes anymore because you feel responsible for their pain. Divorce happens a lot these days and kids do get through it. They have a better chance of getting through it with some stability and that means rules.
9 Not Behaving Like An Adult
Emotions can make us do crazy things but you have to try to act like an adult for the sake of your children. Getting into text and phone wars with your ex is counterproductive and you end up looking like a child yourself. By behaving in childish ways with your ex, you are essentially teaching your children that it’s okay to behave that way. Your children’s lives will be soaked in drama just like yours is and that’s not what’s best for them. If you feel like an argument is getting out of control, diffuse it or walk away.
8 Discussing Money Matters With Children
Children don’t need to know specific money issues going on in the household. One Divorce Mag user explained his experience with his parent’s divorce, “Both my parents would at times vent their frustrations with the other parent at me. My father always made a point to make me notice that he paid his child support on time and in full. My mother took opportunities to express to me that child support wasn’t actually a lot of money, that she would receive the checks late, and that she thought he was hiding assets to decrease the amount the court would mandate he paid.” These are not good conversations to be having with children.
7 Creating Battles For No Reason
Not every disagreement that you have with your ex needs to be turned into a war. Figure out the things that you won’t tolerate, stick to those and then let all the little things go. You can’t invest all your emotional energy into your ex because your children need some of that too. You may get upset when you find out that your ex is letting your child drink soda or he went and gave them a haircut without your permission. These are all little things that are beyond your control so there’s no point in squabbling over it.
6 Forgetting That Kids Know What’s Going On
Kids know more about what’s going on with their parent’s than we think that they do. Your kids can sense moods and pick up on body language cues. If you despise your ex, your child will likely know about it even without you saying anything. Some children can develop anxiety over what they can feel in the room when both their parents are in it. They aren’t fooled by anything and this is why it’s so important to try to create genuine peace with your ex for the sake of your child’s feelings.
5 Discussing The Relationship With Kids
It can be tempting to tell your kids about all the bad things that your ex did to you. You want your children to know what kind of man their father is but that can be terribly damaging for the kids. Again. They love both their parents and you don’t want to change the way they view the other parent. It’s not fair. Just because you don’t like your ex, doesn’t mean that your children can’t have a relationship with them. He’s still the dad and he should be allowed to have a healthy relationship with your kids. Your kids don’t need to know the nitty-gritty of your relationship.
4 Inconsistent Rules in The Home
Rules have to be enforced in the household at all times even through a divorce. Believe it or not but disciplining your child for bad behavior can help them feel secure and safe in your household. Punishment can get a little complicated when the child is in two different households. When you take away the video games right before he goes back to his dad, do you have to reinforce the punishment when he returns? It’s so important to be consistent with rules so that your child is never caught of guard.
3 Overcompensating For The Other Parent
You may not like the way that your ex parent’s your child but it’s important that you don’t try to overcompensate for the other parent. You may want to be more lenient if you feel that your ex is too strict. It’s just not the way that it works. You need to be the right kind of parent regardless of what is going on in your ex’s household. By overcompensating you end up just confusing your child because they are going between two households where there are complete opposite rules. It’s best to just stick to what you believe is the right way to parent.
2 Not Being A Team Player
Whether you want to believe it or not, the best thing that you could do is to be a team player with your ex, for the sake of your child. You may not like your ex and it’s easy to be stubborn when it comes to working together but it’s something you need to do when it comes to addressing problems. Being stubborn will not help your child or the situation that you are in. Try to be open to working with your partner so that problems can be solved. You may not think that you are at fault for the problems that your child is in but you still have to work together.
1 Talking About Child Support
Child support is something that you need to discuss with your ex or even a lawyer but never your child. One BabyGaga user explained her experience with her parent’s divorce. “We were pretty well off when my parents were together. But for some reason, my dad went deadbeat when they split up. He didn’t contribute financially at all, even though my mom was eligible for child support. I’ll never forgive my dad for abandoning us like that, even if they were divorced.” These are issues that should not be discussed with the child because it causes resentment and pain.