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Kids are like little sponges. They absorb everything you say and do, and often, they try to emulate your behaviours. Even when they don’t copy your actions, they’re learning about social interactions by the way you conduct yours.

During a divorce, it’s often tempting to give in to your emotions and act out of anger, hurt or spite—but many psychologists suggest that behaving in those ways in front of your kids could cause long-term problems. Your Toronto divorce lawyer has probably seen many cases in which parents don’t watch what they do or say in front of kids, and that can spell trouble in the long run.

Positive Learning Experiences for Children of Divorce

The fact that you’ve talked to a Toronto divorce lawyer about dissolving your marriage, and that you’re following through after a period of unhappiness, can teach your kids that it’s not okay to suffer needlessly. Although young kids aren’t likely to understand the reasons behind divorce, older kids might—and they might even feel a sense of relief that the fighting and constant strife are over.

Kids can also learn about forgiveness through divorce. When divorcing couples work together for the kids’ sake, promote healthy child-parent relationships with the other parent, and make compromises that are in the kids’ best interests, they’ll learn that it’s okay to work through difficulties for the greater good—even if it’s a bit uncomfortable.

Negative Learning Experiences for Children of Divorce

Parents who trash-talk each other in front of the kids are setting the kids up to do the same. Worse, they’re setting the kids up to mistrust both parents or to feel like they have to take sides. Doing this can also lead to cases of parental alienation, which can cause permanent relationship problems between the children and the affected parent.

Kids pick up on every little thing their parents do (if you’re not sure about that, try drinking milk out of the carton in front of a toddler!), and sneakiness and lying are no exception. When one parent lies to the other, whether it’s about why they’re late, whether they’re dating or anything else, the children will learn that it’s okay to lie to get out of a sticky situation.

Talk to Your Toronto Divorce Lawyer

If you suspect your kids are picking up bad habits as a result of your divorce, first evaluate your own behaviours. Then, try talking to your ex; let him or her know that you want the kids to come out of the divorce stronger and more capable of handling life’s problems, and that they may be learning negative behaviours—but do so without laying blame.

Finally, talk to your Toronto divorce lawyer. If your ex is contributing to your kids’ negative education, your lawyer might be able to help you resolve your issues before taking things to court, should that be necessary.