Few divorces are plain sailing and, while you and your spouse navigate this legal process, it can be easy to forget that your children are in the same boat. The consequences of your divorce affects their well-being and lifestyle, too.

Successful parenting through divorce

It’s expected that ending a marriage will cause both spouses emotional distress, even a sense of bitterness – but it’s important not to let these feelings filter to your parenting.

Both of you need to separate your feelings over the divorce from your joint responsibility as parents. That is easier said than done. We’ve put together pointers to get you, and your kids, off to a healthy fresh start.

Tips for positive parenting through a divorce:

  1. Don’t discuss the finer details of your divorce with your children. They don’t need to know maintenance amounts or financial settlements.
  2. As far as possible, keep your children’s routines, schools and established relationships the same. This will help them adjust to changes at home.
  3. Inform teachers and other important figures in your children’s lives of the divorce and keep them updated on your kids’ progress as they also work their way through their emotions.
  4. Make an effort to keep communication channels open with the other parent, for both you and your children. Speak directly with your former spouse; don’t let your kids act as a go-between. It’s vital that your children feel able to communicate with both of you, in a free and accessible way.
  5. Understand that parenting styles may differ between your two homes and that this can lead to conflict between you and the other parent. Then keep children clear of that conflict. If possible, sort out disagreements between the two of you privately. For example, book a coffee meeting in a neutral setting to talk while your children are at school.
  6. As far as possible, present a united front to your kids. This means attending school meetings, birthday parties and other important events… together. This may not be possible, if your relationship is so antagonistic you can’t spend a whole evening together. But try as far as possible to ensure you both participate in the important events in your children’s lives.

Remember: a divorce doesn’t mean that the family unit has been demolished. It’s merely changed, and you’re still a family, just no longer married.

Family lawyers Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc., are a firm of specialised divorce attorneys in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Contact Simon on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

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