Helping Your Children Cope With Divorce
No matter how complex the divorce process is for you, it’s much more difficult for your children. They need your help to get through this upheaval without suffering from depression, guilt, anger, worry, and stress. They need reassurance and stability from you.
Read on to learn how to tell them, what they need, what to avoid and more.
Telling Your Children About Your Divorce
Telling your children about your divorce is not going to be easy. You must ask yourself, “how am I going to prepare them for the divorce, and what am I going to tell them? This is the time when preparation is critical! Outlining a script in advance is essential. You need a plan with a strategy that will convey the situation with honesty, patience and reassurance at a level they will understand for their age. Expressing your love for them is vital and how that will never change.
You may be surprised to find out that your children understand more than you think. Whatever the reason is for divorce, they have lived it; the arguments, tension, tears, and more.
Their initial reaction may be one of frustration, sadness, worry and shock. However, if you implement the right action plan, most children will be more flexible and become loving and tolerant adults.
What Your Children Need From You
Children react to divorce differently, but that does not change the fact that there are certain things all children need from their parents. Below we list a few critical things you need to know.
- Keep changes to their lifestyle and environment minimal. Their daily schedule should remain as close to their regular routine as possible. For example, maintain all after-school activities, serve dinner at the same time, and keep the household rules the same. Disruption can cause additional stress and frustration.
- A certain amount of change is inevitable during a divorce; therefore, you must assure them that any changes to their lifestyle are okay. Further, re-ensure them that the changes are positive and will lead to better things.
- Give your children the space they need to express their feelings, such as anger and sadness.
- Behavioral changes in a child are important to watch out for. It may be a sign of their feelings of anger and sadness. Ask questions, be a good listener and offer support. Try to get them to put their behavior and feelings into words. Legitimize their feelings and always encourage them with ways to make the situation better. Take them seriously and always respond with honesty. If you have an older child or teen and they are resorting to drugs and alcohol, this is an indication that there may be a need for outside help.
- Stay healthy and stay involved in your children’s lives. Finding a way to manage your stress may be challenging both physically and emotionally. You must combat the effects of stress by taking care of yourself. This way, you will be in the best shape possible to take care of them and continue doing the activities together that you both enjoy.
- Stay private when discussing divorce details with your spouse, family, friends and lawyer. When interacting with your ex and the child is present, keep it as civil as possible. An occasional disagreement is expected in any family, but constant hostility will put a heavy burden on the child.
- Keep all emails and text messages secure so a naturally curious child cannot snoop.
- Keep the fun and positive experiences in their lives. For example, have a pizza night, go to the movies, celebrate a spooky Halloween night in July, just you and them. Always try to avoid the negative.
- If you find the divorce and dealing with your children to be difficult, get help. Find a support group or talk with friends who have already gone through the same thing. There are many online resources you can turn to as well. Getting the right help will provide a healthier adjustment to this significant change in everyone’s lives
Things to Avoid Doing
- As mentioned above, avoid fighting with your ex at all costs. Children can easily convince themselves that the fighting and the divorce are their faults. The guilt they put on themselves is not healthy and will only make the situation much worse.
- No matter how you are hurting and how you feel you are right, never make the child choose sides between you and their other parent.
- Do not use your children as messengers between the two of you.
- Be respectful when talking about your spouse. Remember that they are part of your children’s lives.
- It is natural for children to want to be with both parents. Despite how hard it may be for you to let them go with them, do not show your feelings in front of them. If a child wants to spend more time over the summer with the non-custodial parent, listen to their reasons, explore the options and do what is best for them.
Support and Helping Your Child Through The Divorce
The emotional hurt following a divorce will take time to heal for everyone involved.
First, find your support system, whether family, friends, a support group or a lawyer. Then, focus on yourself and becoming the best you can be.
Secondly, by recognizing the signs of stress your child is showing, communicating with sincerity and honesty, gaining inner strength and learning how to cope, you will be helping to make a bigger and better difference amongst all those involved.
Lastly, while many counselors and psychiatrists can help with your coping issues, you may also need to confide in a family law attorney—one who can handle your divorce case with care and professionalism.
By contacting the divorce lawyers at Dalena & Bosch, you will be dealing with attorneys who are efficient and effective while offering both comfort and support. Feel free to contact the team today.
Take a look at a few of our blogs to learn more about divorce and help you through this difficult time.