If children could make the rules for divorce and parenting, their 10 top rules would be:
· Don't say bad things about the other parent. Kids don't want to hear one parent "bad-mouthing" the other, even if overhearing a parent speak to other over the phone. Children love both their parents, uncomfortable when anyone speaks badly about a parent.
· Keep us out of the Adult Stuff. Children don't want to hear that they cannot do something because the ex cannot afford it or is behind on child support. They should not hear things like "your dad left because he was screwing around with a co-worker."
· Don't make me feel bad for loving the other parent. Children do not want to be called "as stupid as your father", or hear "why do you want to be with the person who broke up our family". These statements, though meant to punish the ex, punish the child.
· Learn to get along for big events. Children deserve to have both parents at their game/play/graduation. Ex's need not stand together. Hiding the date from the ex punishes the child.
· Don't make me choose sides. Children hate being put into the middle and being forced to effectively tell one parent that he/she prefers the other. Some children choose to go with the parent who does not enforce rules about homework, bedtime, etc.
· No fighting in front of us. Children find this to be most uncomfortable. Just think how you feel when watching an argument between two friends or co-workers.
· Don't make me a messenger or put me in the middle. Children do not need an extra job to remember a message, or get it right.
· Don't share or take your anger out on me. Kids want to happy.
· Don't ask me to spy. This makes a child feel guilty, devious and interrupts a healthy relationship with a parent. Kids want to be obedient but not in a destructive manner.
· Give me One-on-One time with both parents. No description needed. Just good parenting.
The above are the basis for destroying a child's relationship with the ex and the person who is saying those things. A Court can use statements like those above to change custody and/or placement from the parent who improperly speaks to or before a child in an intentional manner. When it is done unintentionally, those statements can be used as a basis to show that the speaker fails to maintain a healthy emotional environment for the child. Mediation with Steven Hirsch fosters the quality communication to make your kids happy.
See Huffington Post, If Your Kids Could Make the Rules of Divorce, Kara Bishop