You file for divorce, and all you can think of are your children. Losing the marriage is fine. You feel at peace with it. You just don't want it to harm the kids, emotionally or psychologically. You want what's best for them. You always have, from the time they were born until now, when they are in or nearing their teenage years.
There's good news: You already have the ideal mindset. The kids need to come first, and you know it. You want to focus on their best interests.
Now you just need to know how to do it. Below are a handful of tips that may help:
1. Don't lie
Yes, it may be necessary to protect young children from all of the truths about a broken marriage. Your kids, though, are old enough. They deserve the truth. Don't lie to them. Just listen and be honest when you answer. Transparency with love is often best, even when it's hard.
2. Commit to stay involved
Your future with your ex is over, but your future with the kids is not. Decide right now that you'll stay involved. Be there for them. Some parents drift away after divorce, finding it hard to adjust. Put in the time and effort to stay involved.
3. Co-exist with your ex
That marriage is done, but your relationship isn't. You and your ex are forever connected through your kids. Take that for what it is and find ways to get along and co-exist in their lives. It's hard. It takes work. Do it for the children anyway.
4. Remember that kids know more than you think
Parents often underestimate how much their kids know and perceive. They're smart. They see what's going on. They hear those phone conversations. They watch your body language. Be careful how you act around them. Focus on supporting them and creating a healthy environment.
5. Keep insults in check
If you get mad at your ex -- he missed the pickup time or she didn't make the kids do their homework -- it's easy to lash out. Do it in private or not at all. Never insult your ex to the kids. You can expect the same thing in return.
6. Always remember their needs and put them above your own
Focus on the kids through the changes that divorce brings. For instance, remember that the holidays can stress kids out if they get shuffled back and forth between two homes. The same is true for summer vacations. These are supposed to be the best times of a child's life. Work with your ex to reduce their stress and don't take away the joy of childhood.
These tips may help, and it's important for parents who stay committed to their kids to know how to set up the ideal parenting plan.