Parenting is tough. Parenting through a divorce can be a nightmare. When you said, “I do” you meant those words. Through sickness and health, for better and for worse, forever. But life happens. First was marriage, then a career, and then along came the kids. And then things started to fall apart. Not because of the kids, but because of life.
People separate for different reasons. Sometimes the reasons are financial – spouses can’t agree on the money being spent. Sometimes the reason is that the couple simply falls out of love. Whatever the reason, ending a relationship can bring a lot of stress to your life. Especially when children are involved. So, what’s the best way to manage parenting while dealing with a separation or divorce? This week, we discuss 6 easy do’s and don’ts of parenting through a Pennsylvania divorce.
Therapy is a great outlet to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. It’s also a great way to brush up on your communication skills as a co-parent and as a parent. Therapists provide an unbiased sounding board for your problems and can help pinpoint issues you may not realize. Many therapists also offer family services. Your children can attend and you can work through issues together. Most health plans now provide for psychological services as part of the benefits covered. There are also local agencies that provide some counseling services. If all else fails, discuss the issue with your spiritual advisor. Whatever you do, find a safe way to express your emotions.
Do: Communicate Clearly
Communication is key when dealing with your Pittsburgh divorce attorney. The same applies with the other parent. Communicate your expectations and boundaries. Be tactful with your words, never aiming to hurt the other parent or put them down. Take the high road. Be assertive, not aggressive. If you’re having a difficult time doing this, consult with your therapist, a mediator, or your Pennsylvania family law attorney.
Also, communicate clearly and compassionately towards your children. They didn’t ask to be put in the middle of a fight and likely do not understand what is at stake. It is often best to communicate the reasons for the separation in a simple way, “Daddy and I aren’t getting along right now and need to take a break.” Leave any discussion about attorneys and the law out of the house.
Do: Create a Structured Environment
Humans thrive on stability and certainty. We’re at out best when we have clear parameters in which to operate. This is especially true for children. Establish a structured environment for your kids. Kids, especially young kids, will thank you later in life for doing this. A structured home environment provides certainty and security. Set chores, bedtimes, and privileges and stick to them.
Don’t: Abuse Drugs or Alcohol
Alcohol and drug abuse are significant problems around Pittsburgh. Don’t be a statistic. These substances may provide a quick fix to your emotions, but they will create a world of problems for you in the long run. If you abuse drugs or alcohol, expect a run-in with law enforcement, the hospital, or a rehab facility. Substance abuse can also impact your children by creating distrust and cause severe emotional and mental harm. Not to mention substance abuse can make or break a custody case and cost you significant parental rights.
Don’t: Trash-talk the Other Parent
Divorced parents compete for affection. You lose your marriage so you try to cling on to everything you can to stop change. Trash-talking is tempting to do, especially if the other parent played a role in the separation. Like substance abuse, trash-talking can impact your children’s mental and emotional well-being. Trash-talking can also limit or restrict your parental rights in a custody dispute. Aim to be the bigger person. Correct the kids if they say anything negative about the other parent short of accusations of abuse. Remind them that the divorce is between the parents. Again, discussion about the divorce should be all but non-existent around the kids.
Don’t: Be the Disney World Parent
You’re separated. That doesn’t mean you have to buy your children’s love with lavish gifts. Children respond better in the long run to structure, consistency, and responsibility. Your kids will appreciate you for providing a loving, safe home. What if the other parent is trying to buy the kids’ attention? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Develop a parenting plan based on structure and organic love and affection and stick to it. Kids will see that you love them.
Don’t get mired down in your divorce. You still have a responsibility to be a good parent. Separation and divorce can seem lonely at times. But with the help of a skilled Pittsburgh divorce attorney and your children, you can make it through. If you are facing a separation or divorce, you don’t have to journey alone. Walk with the family law team at Dodaro, Matta, & Cambest, P.C. Let us lead the way. Contact us TODAY at 412-243-1600 to schedule a consultation.