Divorces are hard. They are emotionally taxing on you, your ex-spouse, and most importantly, your children. Especially in the case of young children, they inevitably take divorces extremely hard and will blame themselves. Kids will wrack their brain for anything and everything they did wrong in the past to try and fix this new situation that has literally shattered their reality.

It was a source of pride for me when I was little that my parents were still together when so many of my friends’ parents were not. When they told me at the age of 11 that they were getting a divorce I was very confused and a little ashamed. To a certain extent, this reflected badly upon me, as if I had done something wrong. I had to completely alter my conception of reality that had only just started to develop on its own. I was lucky, my parents kept the bickering and fighting to a minimum, but many parents will use their kids as pawns to find out information about their Ex, or attempt to demonize their former spouse. Try to keep in mind that this person who is your current adversary is still the parent of your child. That is a very special relationship that can be forever altered by a nasty divorce. It is not in the best interests of your child that they hate their mother or father or think any less of them.

Always keep the best interests of your kids in mind. Some things that are important to prioritize are keeping your children in their family home and in their own school. If you are the one moving out, then you must seriously weigh the consequences to your kids of moving them to a new house, school, and city after just exposing them to the fact that the world can be a very unstable and unpredictable place.

Of course the safety of your children is tantamount and if they are in any danger in their current environment, then you must be the rock of stability in their life and look out for their physical and mental health. This might mean moving them to a new place. Courts are extremely reluctant to uproot kids unless you can show that there is a specific harm to keeping them in their current environment.

If the child is older, then their own desires come into play. They are not the entire calculation, but they are important and should be taken into consideration along with safety, stability, and health. Personally, I hated visitation when I was an older teen, but years later I see that I benefited in many ways from it. This is an instance where, believe it or not, a 17-year-old didn’t know what was best for himself.

The emotional toll a divorce takes on an entire family is not to be underestimated. And with kids involved, they will grow up with this event being one of the defining moments in their lives. It is your job to ensure that the divorce is as painless as possible for them and that things remain stable.