ST. LOUIS - The decision to divorce is never an easy one and it can be stressful for the entire family, especially children. The non-profit Kids In The Middle counsels families on how to deal with the emotional stress of divorce.
"Leave the kids completely out of it," said Deborah Weber.
Weber is a mother of four who divorced in 2009. She regrets that her children heard and saw too much of the angry feelings between their parents.
"You've got to keep it between you and the other parent. Having conversations and communicating around where the kids are is the biggest no-no," said Weber. "My kids knew too much about what was going on between he and I and that was partially my fault and also his fault."
Carolyn Knarr is chief clinical officer for Kids In The Middle. Knarr said it is imperative that divorcing parents put their childrens' well-being first.
"Parents need to keep their children out of the middle," Knarr. "Child support issues, custody issues, lawyer and court things going on, they don't need to know about that. Children don't need to be the go-between between parents, they don't need to be the messenger of information that parents don't want to talk to the other parent themselves, so they tell their children 'tell dad or mom such and such.' Children are very aware of what's going on in their environment, so parents need to make sure the children are cushioned and protected from that conflict."
Bobbi Joe Meskill was 2 years old when her parents divorced. She is now a young adult who works at Kids In The Middle. Meskill advises parents and children to understand it is sometimes necessary to ask for counseling help.
"I hid the fact I was sad that my dad wasn't in the picture so I think if they're honest with the parent they live with and about their feelings and the situation, maybe if they ask for help because an outside opinion usually helps somebody."
Kids In The Middle recently created a video about the effect of divorce on children. To watch it, click here.
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