There is an old saying that goes “little pitchers have big ears,” and sometimes people underestimate how true this may be. Children do see and hear far more than is often realized, especially when a couple are caught up in negotiating the sometimes stormy waters of divorce. California residents may not have to worry about fault-based divorce, but this doesn’t necessarily stop a spouse from being deliberately contentious. How does one avoid arguments and rancor to maintain that which is in the best interest of the child?

When the children are present, keeping communication to a minimum and confining any exchanges to the discussion of facts may help one to maintain his or her composure. In addition, avoiding mention of monetary arrangements can prevent children from either feeling like part of the chattels, or becoming a pawn in a game of emotional blackmail. If communications regarding money are instead dealt with in writing it also allows proper transcripts to be maintained for the record.

Refusing to be provoked into an argument when a child is present can be difficult, but it is necessary to avoid causing additional anxiety to the child. Similarly, exercising restraint and avoiding a name-calling match shows the child that courtesy and respect are possible, and preferable, during a time of contention. Showing respect for a spouse’s boundaries and not encroaching on regular routines, such as scheduled visitation, also provides the child with an example of maturity and consideration for the other person’s feelings.

In putting the best interest of the child before all else, the parents may also find that they also benefit as a result. Engaging in unpleasant conflict can be emotionally and physically wearing, at which point one may no longer have the energy to focus on either their own or their child’s welfare. In addressing these issues, California residents may benefit from exploring the legal assistance available to them from appropriate sources.

Source: The Huffington Post, “10 Steps to Dealing With a Combative Ex: How to Protect Your Children“, Sherrie Campbell, PhD, April 21, 2014