Avoid These Common Mistakes Parents Make After Divorce

Parenting after a divorce can be challenging. Parents are dealing with their own emotions while trying to move forward in their new lives as single people. At the same time, they struggle to maintain their roles as parents to their children while learning to interact with their former spouses. Parents often make mistakes along the way, which can end up causing their children significant distress. These are some of the most common mistakes divorced parents make and some tips to avoid them.

Fighting And Arguing

Parents who go through divorce may have a difficult time being civil to one another. Parents should make every effort to put their differences aside and agree not to fight or argue in the presence of their children. Children become stressed when they see or hear their parents engaged in conflict.

Similarly, parents should avoid saying negative things about one another to or in the presence of their children. Criticizing the other parent can cause the child to feel guilty for loving that parent. Children also may start to believe that there is something wrong with them, since they are related to the person being criticized. Criticizing a child's parent regularly could ultimately end up damaging the child's self-esteem.

Making Children Communicate For Parents

Some parents are so frustrated and angry with one another that they go to the extreme of simply refusing to communicate with one another after the divorce. They make their children carry messages back and forth between them so they do not have to speak directly. Putting the child in the middle of the parents in this manner can be very damaging. In effect, parents are asking their children to do something they could not handle doing themselves, which may cause the child undue stress.

Parents who feel like they cannot speak with each other without a fight erupting can try alternate forms of communication such as email or texting which allows them to maintain contact, but limits their interaction.

Treating Children Like Adults

Parents may be tempted to lean on their children for emotional support after a divorce, but parents are the ones who should be supporting their children during this difficult time. Parents who make this mistake may end up confiding details about their feelings or the divorce that should only be discussed with other adults. If a parent feels the need to talk, he or she should call a friend or speak to a therapist, not a child.

Parents may also subconsciously have their children filling in for a former spouse around the home, by having their children preparing meals, doing yard work, or making household repairs. Children need the security of knowing that their parents can handle household responsibilities. That being said, children can be expected to continue with their customary household chores as they did prior to the divorce.