As you find yourself getting consumed by your divorce, whether coping with anger, sadness, stress, or financial problems; keep your eyes open for signs that your children may be negatively affected by your divorce too.
Keep in mind that unless it’s very apparent to kids that their parents are better off without each other, most children do not want their parents to separate. As such, it is only natural that the children will be affected by your divorce. However, there are certain steps that you can take to make the process easier on them.
- Don’t get so caught up in your own grief, anger or stress that you end up neglecting your children.
- To the best of your ability, explain to your children the reasons why you and your spouse are separating. Consider gathering the whole family and telling them the news together. Note that younger children generally cope easier with the divorce as they frequently do not yet understand the upcoming changes and are easier to distract.
- Make sure that your children understand that the reason you are divorcing is not because they did anything wrong.
- Don’t have your child serve as a go-between and deliver messages from one parent to the other.
- Try not to argue in front of your children. The less negative communication the children see between their parents, the better. Kids are really sensitive to things like voice tone, and it’s very upsetting for them to see their mom and dad fighting.
- Stick to a routine, if possible. Keeping children’s schedules, school, and activities the same will help them adjust to your divorce easier.
- If possible, ensure similar rules at both households.Having the same bedtime and chores at mom and dad’s house makes the transition easier.
- Never use your child to punish your spouse. It’s hurtful to the children to restrict their access to the other parent. Children love both their parents and want to see them both.
- Don’t interrogate your child about what they did while spending time with the other parent.
- Don’t’ make your child feel guilty about wanting to spend time with the other parent, and most definitively don’t ask them to choose sides. Children love both their parents and it’s not fair to ask them to favor one parent over the other.
- Try not to put down your ex-spouse while the children are around.When you make negative comments about the other parent, it indirectly hurts the children too.
- Don’t make your child be your therapist. Do not burden your children with your problems and anxieties, as your children are hurting too and might be trying to handle their own fears.
- Keep ties with family and friends strong. The more the children can stay connected to their support group the better they will feel.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Get enough rest. Try to eat healthy. Let friends and family be there for you in your time of need. You will not be able to effectively parent your children, if you get sick or are too exhausted to care for them.
- Let your children know that you are there for them no matter what. Kids are fairly resilient and if they know that they are loved and can count on you, they will eventually adjust to the changes.