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