Like most Alaska parents who have been through similar experiences, you may be dreading telling your children you've decided to divorce. After all, they love both their parents and have mentioned to you in the past how they feel sorry for their friends whose parents' marriages have met the same fate. The good news is that getting divorced doesn't necessarily mean you are ruining your children's lives. No two families are the same but many encounter similar challenges as they adapt to new lifestyles in divorce.
By tapping into available resources in your area, you can provide your children with the tools they need to move toward an emotionally healthy future. That doesn't mean there's a guarantee that no obstacles will arise along the way. However, by gleaning insight from the sage advice of others who have trod similar paths before you, you can remain hopeful that your children will not only survive but also thrive.
Things to do and not do
You understand your children's needs better than anyone but that doesn't mean you will never need outside support as you help them come to terms with your divorce. To start, the following practical tips may be useful as you speak with your kids about upcoming life-changes:
- Keep things civil regarding discussions with your children that include mention of their other parent. While you may want to "set the record straight" or tell them all the things your spouse did to cause your current situation, such issues are best left between adults. Bad-mouthing your children's other parent generally does more harm than good.
- With that in mind, the more you and your spouse present a unified front and show your kids' your willingness to cooperate for their sake, the easier their transition is likely to be. If you bicker over every minor child-related issue, they may doubt that you have their best interests in mind.
- Some parents enter a competition-like pattern where one constantly tries to outdo the other to be the most popular parent. It's best to avoid trying to "buy" your children's loyalty. They love both their parents and over-compensating with exorbitant spending sprees may complicate matters more than show them your support.
- If your spouse is making things difficult by trying to impede your parent/children relationship, try to avoid dragging your kids into the middle of your legal problems. Rather, know how to access immediate support to protect your rights and your kids' best interests.
- It often helps children cope with divorce when their parents keep their family traditions and do their best to maintain structure and routine in daily life.
The Alaska court, like most others, believes children of divorce fare best when their parents provide ample opportunities for them to spend time with both parents. Some former spouses even agree to spend holidays together or attend school functions at the same time so their children can continue to enjoy having their whole family under one roof on occasion.
With the proper tools and resources at your disposable, you can confidently determine what type of customized arrangement will work best in your particular situation.