Here is a list of things that should never be said to children.
Be sure that you tell your children (and consistently and repeatedly assure) them that the break-up has absolutely nothing to do with them and both Mom and Dad love them very much and will always love them very much.
Be sure that you tell the children that Dad and Mom will remain in their lives. Explain that things will be different with everyone not living together but Dad and Mom love them and will always be there for them. Explain to them that they are not getting divorced from their parents.
Do not involve your children in the divorce. Children do not want to know and do not need to know the details. Do not show them or read them the letters from your lawyers; leave them out of it! Allow your children to be children by making the decision not to involve them in adult issues.
Be sure not to badmouth the other parent. This alienation is very painful to the children. Children love both parents and when one parent badmouths the other it hurts the children. Make your children aware that it is perfectly acceptable to show love for the other parent and encourage it. It will come back to you two-fold. Give your children the permission and freedom to love the other parent.
Again, this is very destructive to children. Angry feelings conveyed to children can cause them serious problems such as depression.
Let children love the other parent and their extended family. Do not put pressure on the children to choose sides. Allow and encourage them to love and be loved so they will be happy children.
Be sure to talk to your children in advance of the separation. Both parents together should communicate their decision to divorce to the children. Tell the children Mom and Dad will work together to meet their best interests. This discussion may also take place with a therapist’s assistance and guidance.
Do not use the children as messengers. They will feel like they have to take sides.
Do just the opposite; encourage it. Buy a gift for your children to give to the other parent. Recognize these important days and teach your children that these special occasions should be acknowledged.
Encourage reasonable, non-intrusive yet frequent telephone contact with the other parent.
Be a good role model to your children by using good judgment when introducing your children to a new person in your life. The children are still dealing with your divorce. Be patient and put the children’s best interest above yours.
Do not put your children in the middle and certainly do not tell your children secrets that you do not want them to disclose to the other parent. This will only teach your children to be deceptive and dishonest.
Do not pump your children for information about the other parent.
Do not compare your children to your ex-spouse. Your children are individuals and while you may like or dislike certain qualities about your ex-spouse that you see in your children, such comparisons can be harmful and painful to children because they are aware of your negative feelings toward their other parent.
Do not make promises you cannot keep or manipulate your children.
Do not ask children this question. It is too much pressure for children and too great a burden for children to bear.
The above list is certainly not all inclusive or exhaustive. It is a start, however, to what parents should never say to their children. Commit yourself to this list. Your children will thank you for it.
If you have questions about this post or any other family law or matrimonial matter, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.