Post divorce advice on maintaining a strong relationship with your children, Part II

Post divorce advice on maintaining a strong relationship with your children, Part II

Yesterday the Law Office of Bryan Fagan posted a blog article that discussed three tips that were intended to help recently divorced parents repair/strengthen/develop a strong relationship with their children. If you find yourself in a situation where you are going through a divorce currently, have just concluded a divorce or are even simply considering a divorce that post and this one should be extremely helpful. While no two families are exactly the same, the advice we are providing is, in my opinion, helpful for any family who has gone through something as difficult as a divorce.

Take advantage of the time with your children that you are provided

Many parents come into our office for their consultation prior to a divorce case even beginning and say that they want “full custody” or something similar. What I’ve learned is that they want the children to live with them primarily when they say this. It is normal to want to have as much time as possible with your kids when you are pondering your goals for the divorce. Unfortunately for most divorcing parents, only one has the ability to be designated the “primary conservator” of the children. This can be a big transition to make for many parents- going from being able to see the children at any time to only being able to see them at the pre-scheduled times contained in your final decree of divorce.

No matter where you ended up in terms of visitation/possession/access of your children, it is important to take advantage of every opportunity you get with them. It’s a no brainer that it is very difficult to further develop a relationship with someone if you do not spend time with them. Your children are no exception. Your children crave the sort of stability that your actions can either enhance or detract from. Cancelling or no-showing for a visit with your children is not a good look for you. On a practical level it will anger your ex spouse and leave you susceptible to an enforcement proceeding in court for your violations of the court order. On a relational level your children will acutely understand that by choosing some other activity over them they are not your number one priority.

Put your feelings about your ex spouse on the backburner and focus on your children

You may have been pushing for the divorce or you may have been the resistant spouse who wanted nothing more than to attempt to salvage the marriage. Once the ink has dried on your divorce decree you are divorced and very little of your thoughts on the divorce are relevant. This may sound mean or harsh but I’m here to say it’s the truth. Dwelling on the past issues with your spouse is not healthy given that the one person that could have potentially solved those issues with you is the person with whom you no longer reside or share a life.

With that said, your children do want to hear nor participate in any attempts on your parent to seek revenge or retribution for supposed wrongs committed against you during the divorce or even prior to it. Attempting to undermine their authority as a parent by asserting your superiority to the children is all to common but the end result is that the children either will resent you for this or they will simply stop listening and respecting the things you say. Purposely making life difficult on your ex spouse by dropping the children off late at the end of a visitation schedule, not paying for an extracurricular activity as previously agreed or failing to communicate about an important issue in the children’s lives are petty examples of unbecoming behavior some divorced parents exhibit thinking that they are getting back at their ex-spouse. In reality, your children are the ones who suffer and may even think that they are to blame for the bad behavior you are displaying. It is best to not put your children in that sort of situation. Don’t get into the mindset that your ex spouse is the enemy and that your shared life with the children is the battleground on which to wage a war.

Your children do not need to choose between Mom and Dad

The great thing for your children is that both you and your ex spouse will be provided ample opportunity to build strong relationships with them. Even if you leave the divorce process with less time than you would like, even a Standard Possession Order allows for a good deal of time to spend together as a family.

Given this arrangement there is not a need to attempt to manipulate the situation with your children in order to try and curry favor towards you and away from your ex spouse. There should not be a “favorite” parent and you should not ask which parent your children enjoy spending time with more.

Again I will point out that your children, no matter their age, are more perceptive than you may think. If you put them in a position where they are made to choose sides it is possible that they will submit and pick one parent or the other, but in the long run it is your relationship that may suffer. An older child may look back on being put in that situation and realize that it was not fair of you to do so. A younger child may not understand fully what they are being asked to do and may instead become unwilling to share their thoughts and feelings with you as a result of being asked questions that make them feel uncomfortable.

Questions on Divorce in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

Hopefully these pieces of advice were helpful to you and applicable to your particular family situation. If you have any other questions on this subject or any other in family law please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. Our office staff is ready to take your call and set you up with a free consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys.

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