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With a little work, a child-positive divorce is possible

Some people in Las Vegas, like people in any major city, will be too quick to tell you that no matter what you do, a divorce will be hard on your children. But you can file that piece of conventional wisdom in the “divorce myths” category, right next to “divorce is always expensive” and “divorce is always acrimonious,” because relationship experts and therapists say a divorce is not necessarily bad for kids. It takes a little extra work on the part of both you and your spouse, but a divorce that is easy for children to take is definitely a possibility.

Christy Buchanan, a psychology professor who wrote a book on the behavior displayed by adolescents after their parents divorced, said children can thrive after their parents separate as long as their parents do so with some diplomacy and tact.

After one woman and her husband decided to divorce, for example, they made sure to stress to their two daughters that they would remain a family, that neither parent saw a divorce coming when they married and that each parent still loved both girls very much. The woman told a reporter she believes that stressing those facts to her children gave them something to focus on besides the fact that their parents were splitting up.

Another tactic that makes divorce easier on children is to have disagreements in private. Even if you and your partner are splitting amicably, it is likely that there will be a few sticking points. Make sure that you do not argue about these issues when your children can see or hear you. This strategy will also encourage you to be calm and civil with your spouse, which will make things easier on the both of you as well.

If you are still concerned about the impact your divorce may have on your children, check for parenting resources on the Internet or at your local library. Your attorney may also be able to recommend a therapist or other professional whom he or she thinks might be able to offer further tips and suggestions.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “The Child-Focused Divorce,” Elizabeth Bernstein, Sept. 6. 2011.

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