Mommy Minute: Keeping kids out of the crosshairs of divorce

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Divorce is a tough topic, but with more than 50 percent of marriages ending and 75 percent of second marriages not lasting, it’s a topic worth discussing to keep things civil for the kids.

In far too many cases, children get caught in the crossfire.  

“It does not have to be a negative experience. However, if it’s a hostile environment and if they are not prioritizing their kids, it can be high conflict.  It can cause a lot of damage to their children,” psychotherapist Amanda Levison of Neurofeedback and Counseling Center of Pennsylvania said.

Levison says no one gets married to get divorced, but it happens. If things are not handled properly, the kids will suffer and feel torn.  

“Even going to a school activity or extra-curricular activity, the child feels like they have to make a choice.  They can’t just have mom on one side and dad on the other,” Levison said.

Levison urges parents to put the kids first and to focus on their needs instead of their own hurting hearts.  She also says if it’s possible, the divorced parents should still try to spend time together with the kids.  She suggests perhaps to go to lunch or dinner or have one birthday party together instead of two.  It will help the children understand that while their family may no longer be together, they are still loved and cherished by both parents.  

Levison also offers these three tips.

“Number one is prioritize your child.  That by far is the most important thing.  Number two is to be able to effectively communicate with your ex-spouse in a way that you are always prioritizing your children. And number three is let your child know it’s okay to not always agree with somebody, but that you are able to work through it in a healthy way,” Levison said.

Some other tips to keep the peace;  don’t try to get your child to side with one parent over the other.  Don’t bad mouth the other parent of their family members and reassure your child they did not cause the divorce.  Children often feel guilty when their parents split up and they need to know it was not their fault.

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