Conflict Reducing Guidelines

1. NEVER put your child in the middle. Communication with your ex-spouse directly is important. With modern technology now being commonplace, if both parents are in agreement with the child having a cell phone, it is okay for the non custodial parent to call the child but making sure that they leave out any negative comments about the other parent or not asking the child to relay messages that the parents should be dealing with (example: child support payments).

2. Children should NOT be asked to choose parents. This includes directly asking a child to choose or indirectly by discouraging your child to be interested in anything your exspouse may take an interest in. Children should feel free to love both parents.

3. Do NOT blame each other for the fault of the marriage. Marriages consist of two individuals and both contributed to the problem in the marriage. If you need to vent, talk to friends, relatives, or a therapist. Do NOT tell children things that may hurt their relationship with the other parent.

4. Keep negativity out of the conversation when talking to the child about the ex-spouse. Children understand that they are apart of both you and your ex, so speaking negatively about one partner may get internalized by the child and they may think that you are speaking negatively about them too. Watch any type of blaming of the ex-spouse.

5. Make and keep appropriate boundaries with your children. Children should not be forced into a parental role or the role of your counselor, if you are struggling with the divorce process, you should seek the help of a professional.

6. Take care of yourself and move forward with your life as quickly and as best as possible. Children are known to adjust to divorce the way that they see their parents adjust. Do positive things to relieve stress, like exercise or taking up a new hobby. Doing these things will be a good model for your children to follow.

7. ALWAYS allow your children to express their feelings. Find ways for children to express their feelings to you (example: making sure you are actively listening to your child. When your child is talking to you, stop what you are doing, turn towards them and listen).

8. Make books available about divorce and its adjustment for your child. You do not have to force them to read these books but allow the child to have access to them.

9. Give developmentally appropriate responses to your children when they ask about why you and your ex-spouse divorced. It may be important to give examples to children to explain it in more basic terms to your children. For example: find two foods that the child likes that are opposing or aren’t foods that are typically eaten together like, macaroni and cookies, you can explain to the child that they like both of these foods but they don’t taste good when eaten at the same time. Communicating this with your children can help them to see that both macaroni and cookies are good but that they aren’t good when mixed together.

10. NEVER engage in conflict with your exspouse in front of your children. While in the presence of your children, if you can’t say anything politely to your ex, don’t say anything. Most times, meeting in public places reduces some of the tension and anger and helps you to control your speech to your ex while in the eye of the public.

11. Continue to tell your children that the divorce is NOT their fault. Children tend to think that the divorce happened because of something that they did. Make sure that no matter the child’s age, you emphasize that the divorce did not happen because of them.

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