© 1996, Paul Zelenski, M.A.

1. Do not demean the other parent's living situation, eating habits, choice of friends, choice of activities, choice of dates, or parenting decisions. If you have concerns, speak to the other parent personally, far away from the children's hearing.

2. Help the children explore their own feelings without influencing them with your own. If positive comments seem impossible, neutral statements about the other parent are better than negative ones.

3. Do not encourage, in any manner, the children to be spies or tattlers on the other parent. This can cause a lot of guilty feelings and loyalty conflicts.

4. Assist in dividing the children's things so they will be comfortable in both homes.

5. Don't let the children manipulate or play you off against each other. All children will try this at some point. If there is continuing hostility between parents, the chances for this manipulation to work are greatly improved.

6. Be honest with your children but don't burden them with more than they can handle, emotionally or developmentally.

7. Work hard to develop a positive, enthusiastic, optimistic attitude about your custody and access structure. Your attitude will greatly influence your children's attitude.

8. Do not disappoint your children by being inconsistent or unpredictable. Stable routine is important. Children are very hurt if you cancel time with them, show up late to pick them up, or bring them back earlier than planned.

9. Learn to share your children comfortably. Give up the need to be intrusive into your former spouse's life or to control what she does with the children. Try to develop trust in her as a parent, even if you have lost trust in her as spouse or friend.

10. Learn to rebuild your life into one where you are growing in new directions, where you have become happy with yourself, and where you are optimistic about the future. Your sense of well-being and hope will affect your children's adjustment in wonderful ways.

Adapted From: "Healthy Divorce" by Craig Everett, Ph.D. and Sandra Volgy Everett, Ph.D., Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, 1994.

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