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Your children need your presence more than your presents.
Jesse Jackson

Do not blame, criticize, or diminish your spouse within earshot of the children, and do not angrily, bitterly, or sarcastically tell your children that "you are just like your mother/father." Such behavior creates incredible confusion and pain for your children. Remember that your children are your spouse's children, too; by criticizing the other parent, you are also criticizing that half of your children that they inherited from the other parent. Furthermore, "bashing" your spouse may well make the children angry with you, it will not change your spouse, nor will it promote a civil co-parenting relationship in the future.

Make an extra effort to maintain your relationship with your children if you are the parent who moves out of the family home. Attend school and extracurricular events, and remember birthdays, holidays and other special events such as confirmation or graduation. Call or e-mail your children regularly. Let your children know that you will always be their parent, and that out of sight does not mean out of mind. Make your home feel like their home, too; provide each child his/her own space (if not their own room, then their own bureau or drawer), and buy an extra set of clothes, pajamas and toiletries that the children can leave at your home.

Maintain the children’s activities and routines. Minimize the impact of your divorce upon the children by maintaining their extra-curricular and sports activities, as well as their daily routines and family rituals. The more that things  stay the same, the fewer the disruptions created by your divorce.

Read. There are many excellent books that can help your children survive--and even learn from--the divorce experience. Some books are meant to be read by parents to their children, and others are for children to read themselves. While you are at it, find a book for yourself, too--divorce is a challenging experience for both adults and children alike. See Helpful Reading.

Keep adult issues between adults. Do not discuss details of your divorce with your children except when doing so would clearly be in the children's best interests. Do not use the children as messengers or as spies, and do not question them critically or in detail about your spouse or your spouse's lifestyle. If you think there is a problem or concern that your child cannot handle with their other parent, then discuss your concerns directly with that other parent. Divorce mediation can help you and your spouse develop effective communication skills so that you can separate spousal issues from parental issues, thus keeping the children from being "caught in the middle."

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