We last left off with Joan B. Kelly in our prior blog post, noting therein that the described “groundbreaking clinical psychologist and researcher” has a lot to say concerning the welfare of children in high-conflict divorces. That should hardly be surprising, given Kelly’s half-century immersion in the subject matter.
Our May 15 entry passed along Kelly’s observation that far too few parents openly communicate with their kids regarding what is a momentous development in their lives. Even truly young children should be brought in the loop, she says, in an appropriate and simple way.
There are a lot of “Kelly points” that a family law attorney with proven experience working with combative parents having children can attest are valid and should be paid attention to.
Discretion is one of them, given that parents’ failure to exercise it can create tremendous tension for kids in a divorce. Kelly advises decoupling spouses “to reorganize things in a way that respects their [the children’s] relationship with both parents.” Don’t harp on your impending ex in front of the kids. Don’t overheat in a visible way when you’re interacting with your spouse. Don’t make your children take sides on any matter.
Here’s something, too: Recognize the personal toll divorce can take and the possibility that a sit-down or two with a counselor or therapist can help you deal more effectively with what is a rough patch in your life. Your kids might benefit from that.
And then there is “connection,” which is vitally important for children. Don’t shut out existing family members or friends, or summarily disrupt customary activities. Having – and retaining – “a deep and powerful support system” is a critical lifeline for a child going through uncertainty.”
Kids are precious. Keeping their best interests in mind during the divorce process – especially one that is conflict-laden – can keep them strong and protected.