What to Tell Your Children
Parents often wonder what to tell children about the evaluation, particularly since the children have some degree of awareness of the conflict in their parents marriage.
One evaluator says that she asks the parents what they have thought of to tell their child because [i]n these ways, I am beginning my assessment of the parents' empathy and ability to put themselves into the place of their child. However, because I feel strongly that evaluators should take precautions to avoid harm to children, I will then answer this question of parents. Especially when children are aware of the conflicts, my answer is typically something like the following: When I meet with children, I always tell them that my job is to help their mother and father find ways to agree and cooperate about how to raise them. It would probably make sense to tell your child that I am a psychologist who is trying to understand as much about your family as possible, so that I can help the two of you learn to agree on parenting. Tell them that I will be wanting to learn as much as I can about them and their feelings, not just about the divorce and the two of you. Encourage your child to be open and talk about how he/she feels. I then ask parents how they think their child will respond to the above, again trying to assess their awareness of their child's feelings.
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THE DON’Ts – Good parenting through divorce has a dimension that is negatively defined. Good divorced parents do not speak badly or make accusations about the other parent in front of a child. They do not force a child to choose sides, or use a child as a messenger or go-between, or pump a child for information about the other parent, or argue or discuss child support issues in front of a child. In short, they do not use a child as a pawn to hurt the other parent.
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