Divorce: Keeping Kids a Priority - Guidelines for Parents to Follow in a High-Conflict Divorce
Written by: Amy Greene-Wilke, Counselor at Total Health Guidance
Who suffers when parents are engaged in fighting, conflict, bickering or disparaging one another? The children suffer!
As parents, we all want what is best for our children. Going through the divorce process is a time of extreme stress when emotions and conflict can run high for many people. Constant conflict that is prolonged and unresolved can be very damaging for the kids emotionally. It is important to take steps to ensure the emotional health of the children, if high conflict is going on. There are some basic guidelines to follow that will minimize the conflict which will benefit the parents as well as the children. To have low contact follow these rules:
1.)Communicate in writing only, unless it is a true emergency.
2.)Do not use derogatory or inflammatory language in written communications.
3.)Do not ever use the children as “messengers or go-betweens” to relay any type of messages, comments or even practical information between parents. This is not their role, let kids be kids.
4.)Avoid face-to-face custody exchanges. If this is not possible, do the exchange in a highly visible location such as a supermarket parking lot. If there are many witnesses present it should prevent a hostile parent from creating a scene or behaving inappropriately.
These are just a few guidelines that can help minimize the contact and conflict between divorcing parents. It is also a good idea to create a parallel parenting plan rather than co-parenting plan. The parallel plan does not require frequent day- to- day communication between the parents, limiting the chance of conflict. The Parallel Parenting Plan should be written as specifically as possible to avoid any conflicts or disagreements. Put in clearly defined specifics such as: days of visits, start and end time, pick up and drop off location. Putting as many specifics as possible into the plan can reduce or eliminate the need for ongoing communication between parents and possible disagreements since the specifics are clearly outlined and defined in the parenting plan. Parents are encouraged to then follow the plan as closely as possible and not alter it unless it’s necessary.
If you are experiencing the emotional stress of divorce, parenting with an Ex-spouse or other parent-child struggles, Amy is willing to help. She can be contacted at: Amy@TotalHealthGuidance.com or by phone at: 321-332-6984.