An upcoming documentary seeks to tell the story of divorce from the point of view of the children. Interviews with kids and parents focus on the affect that divorce can have on kids, and gives kids an opportunity to tell parents what works and what doesn’t during a difficult divorce.
One major piece of advice from the kids to parents is to make sure not to put them in the middle. While this seems like a simple enough request, many parents struggle not to treat their kids as a messenger to their ex-spouse. Some children are enlisted to transport court documents or child support checks, while others must listen to each parent insulting the other. In any situation, children and family psychologists both agree that involving the children in the conflict in this way is harmful.
In fact, some experts say that high-conflict divorces can have long term effects on a child’s academic and professional performance, in addition to the emotional distress and difficulty in future relationships that it can cause.
Another piece of advice that the children offer to divorcing parents is to be mindful of the custody schedule and to make it a predictable and easy transition. This means being on time to pick up or drop off as well as having the proper infrastructure in place to easily move the children from one parent’s care to the other.
Having a comprehensive custody agreement is one way that parents can try to work out these issues in advance, in an environment where the children will not be exposed to the conflict.
Source: USA Today, “When parents divorce, how NOT to treat the kids” Sharon Jayson, Sept. 21, 2012