How Do We NOT Mess Up Our Kids in our Divorce?

How do we NOT mess up our kids in our divorce?  This may be a question that crosses your mind when determining the end of your marriage. Oftentimes, we see couples decide to stay together “for the kids”. What many people don’t realize is that staying together in a toxic relationship is far more detrimental to the well-being of your children then living separately. Additionally, being divorced and engaging in a toxic co-parenting relationship can be damaging for your children too.

Nadia is a psychotherapist with her own practice, and she has graciously written this article to help answer that question. Here’s what she has to say: 

Keep Children Out Of Your Own Mess 

How do we NOT mess up our children? By keeping them out of our own mess. By allowing them to simply be children. They do not have to hear about our grown-up problems. How do we accomplish this? By vowing to not speak disparagingly about the other parent in front of the children. By not speaking about the perceived burdens and stressors — whether it be financial or emotional. Quite often, parents don’t realize that seemingly small jabs at the other parent do not fall onto deaf ears. As a clinician, I can tell you that your children don’t need to hear it, many of them don’t want to hear it, and they are not intellectually or emotionally equipped to hear it. 

They are left as little protectors. Trying to protect each parent from the other. That leaves very little space for them to feel safe and protected in either home. Sometimes, this may make a child align with one adult, which again is not the job of a child. Nor does a child have the emotional intelligence to understand the motivations of each parent and what they are aligning with. More often than not, we see children feeling split down the middle and trying very hard to make sure that all of the adults’ feelings are protected. If you feel the need to pull your child into the matters of your divorce, you may want to ask yourself some hard questions.

  • What purpose does this serve? 
  • What are my true motives behind saying this?
  • Is this information HELPFUL, age-appropriate, or necessary to my child?
  • Would I want my ex doing or saying this to my child?

Need Additional Help? Seek Guidance From a Professional 

There are many different types of therapists that can help guide you through this challenging transition to becoming effective co-parents. Sometimes, former couples seek help together with a mediator or relationship/couples counselor. This can be great to have a non-biased party there to help facilitate communication and remind each other of the agreed-upon goals. 

Additionally, seeing a therapist for individual counseling can yield incredibly, valuable benefits as well. Working on yourself, allowing yourself to be vulnerable behind closed doors and process your less flattering thoughts and feelings can help you grow as an individual and as a co-parent. Lastly, talking to other couples who have done or who are currently having a successful blended family is an undeniable source for guidance.  


About Nadia: 

Nadia-Heldfond Nadia Grannon Heldfond, MSW is a psychotherapist, life coach and registered clinical social worker intern in the Tampa Bay area. Nadia is a co-owner of a private practice, New Day Mental Health Counseling,  in South Tampa with her friend and colleague Kelsey Paterson. 

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