Many of us have friends or family members going through a divorce with children. We try to offer support but don’t know what to say that will be helpful without further polarizing or inflaming the situation. Maybe you can see both sides, but the person going through the divorce cannot and does not want to hear it. A great resource is the Children’s Bill of Rights, adopted by the Travis County courts. These are clear, neutral rules of behavior meant to protect children from the adult conflict of divorce. For anyone going through a divorce with children, they are an invaluable list of do’s and dont’s, including:
-Neither parent shall permit the children to overhear arguments, negotiations or other substantive discussions about legal or business dealings between the parents.
-Neither parent shall communicate moral judgments about the other parent to the child concerning the other parent’s choice of values, lifestyle, choice of friends, successes or failures in life (career, financial, relational) or residential choice.
-The parents will acknowledge to the child that the child has two homes although the child may spend more time at one home than the other.
-Neither parent will refuse to acknowledge that the child can have or should have good experiences with the other parent.
So before you spend an hour on the phone listening supportively to your friend or loved one about their divorce (and believe me, they need it), make sure the kids aren’t in the car or within hearing distance, or better yet, are with the other parent!