Choosing a “Child Centered” Divorce could be one of most important decisions you will make in your entire divorce process. There is no question that our children are the most important topic when dealing with separation and divorce, but if you are in the midst of it, how do you know if you are doing it in a way that is “Child Centered?”
First, let’s start with what it is.
The dictionary defines child centered as giving priority to the interests and needs of children. A child centered approach to separation and divorce is when the focus of the negotiations and the process is moved from legal rights, finances, and individual protection and gain, to putting the children’s needs and best interests at the forefront. Although it is important that you know your rights and that you protect yourself in the separation process, when taking a child centered approach, protecting what you want should not be done at the expense of your children.
A Child Centered Divorce focuses primarily on how this process is affecting the children involved and what plan of action could be taken to alleviate as much tension, stress, drama, and chaos as possible.
Over time research has shown that it is not necessarily the divorce that causes long term emotional and psychological effects on children, but how that divorce is handled. The more anger, arguing, and chaos in involved in the separation, the higher the likelihood that a child will suffer emotionally.
The next question, how do we know if our approach is child centered?
If you want to ensure that you are taking the right approach, here are some questions to ask yourself :
1.) Do you find yourself constantly arguing with your ex?
2.) Are you more worried about how much money you are getting, or about proving how awful a parent your ex is?
3.) Are you battling with lawyers in and out of the courtroom?
4.) Are you constantly defending yourself and trying to prove a point, or prove how wrong your ex is, or continuing hostility because of emotion rather than fact?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then our guess would be that your approach is not child centered. None of what was described above is in the children’s best interest. The moment it becomes about YOU it is no longer about THEM.
How do we go about our divorce in a child centered way?
MEDIATION is generally the best option in keeping a Divorce Child Centered. Your mediators’ focus should be primarily on what is in best interest of the children which also includes setting you both up for success. When making decisions it is important to always keep this question in the front of your mind: How will this affect my children?
Here Are 5 Tips To Keep Divorce Child Centered:
1.) Keep all words, responses, and decisions fact based. The moment you enter your feelings, there is a chance that you are basing things on what you want.
2.) Always ask yourself how will this decision affect my children now or in the future?
3.) Don’t argue over every small detail of the parenting plan. Let’s keep it real, so much will change over time with your children growing up that arguing about every small detail in the parenting RIGHT NOW is a waste of time and money when some of these arrangements can change within the next 6 months to a year depending on the age of your children.
4.) Look to your mediator for direction. Although they cannot give you legal advice, they can assist you in making decisions that are in the best interest of the child. Remember, your mediator is not emotionally involved in all of this the way you are, therefore they will remain more objective.
5.) Put yourself in your children’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective.
Protecting Your Child
One of the best gifts you can give your child, if you are going through a divorce, is to protect them from the conflict of litigation (court). Please research and talk to attorneys who have been trained and have experience in Child Centered Divorce and Mediation and consider this option for your family, if you must go through a divorce. The attorneys at Bedlam Law have over 30 years of experience representing clients who want to pursue a Child Centered Divorce. We take a resolution minded approach, bound by integrity. Saving you time and money.
If you are still unsure about whether or not you are taking a “Child Centered” approach, or If you have any questions about how to implement one, contact us today, we would love to help!
In the mean time, here are a few resources that might be beneficial for families going through a divorce.
The Committee for Children has been a resource for all the years since Sesame Street became a part of our culture. It is no wonder that they are leaders in getting helpful information to children and their families about how to manage divorce:
Little Children/Big Challenges: Divorce: For ages 2-8
FREE materials include:
- Multimedia resource kit with a Sesame Street DVD, a Guide for Parents and Caregivers, and a Children’s Storybook
- All resources available for download
- Sesame Street: Divorceapp for adults to use on tablets and phones, available on Google Play, the App Store, and the Amazon for Kindle Fire.
- com/SesameInCommunities featuring playlists of videos related to the initiative.
For more information, e-mail email@example.com
Split: The Film
for children ages 6-12, is a movie featuring 12 children who experienced divorce.
It is from the children’s perspective, no experts, no adults, just children. A review from School Library Journal says this about the film: Gr 1–6–This excellent film shows a diverse group of children aged 6-12 in all of their vulnerability and strength. They are on-camera individually responding to questions or prompts that viewers don’t hear.
Brightly colored animation draws the audience in and helps to explain what the children are saying. The animation divides each of the discussion points that are touched on, such as families (of all kinds), change, feelings, wondering why the divorce happened, stuck in the middle, being shuttled back and forth between parents, and more.
Trailer for the film: http://www.splitfilm.org/watch_trailer.html.
Books for children whose family is going through divorce:
Meet Max, by Jennifer Leister, LPC
Max Meet Emma, by Jennifer Leister, LPC
Chip, The Puppy with Two Homes, by Jodi Hassler, MA, LPC
Divorced But Still My Parents (for Children grades 1-7, age 6-12), by Shirley Thomas, Ph.D.
Dinosaurs Divorce, by Mark Brown
It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear, by Vicky Lansky, author of Divorce Book for Parents
The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst
Hope these help! We are always here if you need us. 405.232.2444