Divorce is a commonplace occurrence in many of today’s households. The concept that it is no longer rare oftentimes leads to the misconception it is not a big deal for the children involved. The reality is children can oftentimes struggle throughout the divorce process, especially in the early days of transition and parents must do their best to help them through this uncertain and stressful period.

Take the Time to Explain

It is always best for parents to make the effort and take the time to talk with your child about divorce. Depending on their age children may not be fully aware of what the process entails or why it is happening. Take the time to explain in an age-appropriate way what is happening and what the future entails for them. Children do not need to hear all of the intricacies of your divorce or who is to blame but rather they want to understand the changes around them while continuing to feel secure and know they will continue to be cared for.

Keep an Open Dialogue

One of the most important things you can do for your child through a divorce is to maintain an open dialogue allowing them to express their feelings and ask any questions they may have. You may not be able to answer all of their questions but do the best you can to listen to them, validate their feelings, and help them feel secure.

Offer Support

Oftentimes children, especially older ones can see their parents are going through a difficult time and will repress their thoughts and feelings in order to prevent adding to their parents’ stresses. Let your children know you are there to offer support to them in any way they may need; whether it be a shoulder to cry on, to talk, or just spend time together. Make it clear they are your priority and you are there to support them through their hard times. If they are having an especially difficult time you may consider getting them outside help such as a counselor or therapist to work with them through this time.

Shield Them from High Conflict Situations

Divorces can get ugly, even the most amicable of divorces can cause conflict and disagreements at some point in the process. Shield your children from these situations as best you can. Although it may not be possible for all parents to remain friends during a divorce it is important to act amicably and respectfully towards one another in the presence of your children. Parental conflict is one of the highest stresses for children going through a divorce.

Avoid Negativity

Refrain from speaking ill of the child’s other parent in front of them. Do not talk about details of your divorce, therapy sessions, or who is at fault. Maintain your privacy when it comes to your feelings regarding the other parent that can be detrimental to your children.

Do Not Make Them Choose

When your child wants to spend time or see their other parent encourage them to do so. Do not make them feel guilty, unnecessarily restrict the parent’s access to the child or make the child choose sides. Understand their need to spend time with and remain in contact with the other parent. Allow them to talk to you about their other parent and express their love and feelings for them without fear of repercussion.

Establish a New Routine

Children do best when they have established routines and predictability in their lives. Establish a new routine for your children that takes into account their needs, spending quality time with you, and spending quality time with their other parent.  Keep them engaged in their regular activities and try to keep the normalcy in as many aspects of their lives as possible.

Going through a divorce is a difficult and life-changing time for everyone involved including the children. Recognizing their unique difficulties and implementing strategies to help them cope will help keep you all on track throughout this process.

 

If you are considering divorce or beginning the process of separation contact us at Ellender Law Firm to set up a consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.