Children need to see their parents being supportive of each other, especially during a divorce. They need to see their parents having a united front – that they are still able to communicate with each other and make decisions for them that are in their best interest. Ultimately, children need to see that they are still both their parents even though they are getting a divorce.
The Children’s Bill of Rights was created many years ago. It is a Bill of Rights that helps parents remember that they are modeling behaviors for their children in ways that are in the best interest of their children. These are behaviors that their children will pick up on. Children as young as three and four are incredibly perceptive. They hear, they know, and they’re also highly influential. So, the question should always be in the back of your mind. What do I want for my children?
Children need stability from their parents. Their lives are being disrupted and filled with uncertainty and fear because of the divorce. They need a level of security and stability in their lives. They need to see their parents modeling good, healthy boundaries.
Even if you are extremely bitter or angry with the other parent, that person is still your child’s other parent. It is incredibly beneficial for your children to have a positive relationship with the other parent. (That said, there are circumstances where this may not be possible given the other parent’s past and/or current negatively impactful behavior.) Parents can unwittingly pressure or influence their child’s opinion of their other parent.
When children see or hear negative things about one parent, they will interpret those criticisms as being about themselves. Every child sees themselves as a mix of the traits of one parent and traits of the other parent. They don’t need to hear either parent speaking negatively about the other in front of them or within their hearing.
You want your children to become emotionally healthy adults. If they hear or see negative things about either of their parents, the thought pattern that is embedded in their minds as small children will more than likely manifest in them when they become adults. Certainly, no parent wants that for their children.
How do we want the children to turn out as adults? What kind of people do we want them to be? Going through a divorce makes everything more challenging. There are all these emotions trying to override our ability to think rationally, to “respond” as opposed to “react.” Keeping the Children’s Bill of Rights in mind will help you to become more thoughtful, focused on the facts, and less reactive during the divorce process.