If you're one of those divorced persons who have a contentious relationship with their exes, be ever so careful that you don't let it have an impact on the mental well being of the children you are parenting together.
Unfortunately, children are almost always victims when it comes to divorce -- helpless victims who love both parents -- and the last thing they need is to feel the tension and acrimony between the two people they love the most. Nor do they need to feel they must choose one parent over the other. But I find that couples are so caught up in their anger, need for control, or bitterness that they don't fully realize how their behavior (their unkind words and actions toward one another) can affect their children, who are often left feeling they must pit one parent against the other.
Whenever I find myself talking to the children of parents who are involved in a custody battle, for example, or simply caught between Mom and Dad as they fight over visitation matters, I feel a tremendous sadness. I often wish that parents could simply walk around in their children's shoes during just one of those inappropriate incidents. Then they could feel the stress and discomfort their children experience.
I have a checklist of what I think are appropriate boundaries for parents who simply don't agree and who don't get along with one another. I take special care and as much time as necessary with my clients to help them with a plan to handle difficult moments with their ex -- especially situations that directly affect the children.
The following are my suggestions for sparing the children any more grief than necessary:
I'm certain that, as a loving parent, you always want to protect the peace of mind and well being of your children. Just know that being the bigger person -- whether it means being more flexible with the visitation schedule or biting your tongue when you just want to sound off at what you think is unfair in front of your ex and the children -- will pay more dividends in the long run. For starters, you'll take great pride in showing your ex that he or she can no longer push your buttons!
Stacy D. Phillips is a co-founder of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation, which specializes in high-profile family law matters. She is co-chair of the Women's Political Committee and a member of Divorce Magazine's North American Advisory Board. She can be reached at (310) 277-7117. View her firm's Divorce Magazine profile here.
For more articles on child custody, visit http://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Child_Custody.
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
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