Divorce is difficult on the whole family. And children can suffer beyond the initial breakup for years to come if they feel torn between the parents or don’t deal with it in a healthy manner. As parents going through a divorce, there are things you can do to ensure children get through it and become happy adults.
Delivering the News
Letting children know that a marriage is breaking up is a very emotional and tumultuous time. It’s difficult to anticipate their initial reaction and response. When breaking the news, reinforce the message that the divorce is between you and your spouse and make certain they understand they are not responsible. Children typically feel a range of emotions from guilt, remorse, and anger as they realize the only family life they have known is falling apart. Be patient, attentive, honest and keep lines of communication open. Refrain from assigning blame and spare any intimate details or issues that should remain private between you and your spouse.
Answering the Questions
Children of divorce will have many questions about the situation and their immediate future. While spouses may be looking long term, kids will want to know how this is going to impact their day to day lives. Questions may include: Where will I live? How will we spend holidays and vacations? Where will the other parent live? What else will change?
Though you may not have all the answers immediately, be candid and provide as much information as reasonable while reassuring them that they are the priority. Children need to know they are loved and cared for regardless of the changes to their immediate environment.
Maintaining Continuity & Stability
During a divorce, strive to maintain continuity at home so children have a sense of stability and security. Consistency and routine help provide comfort and calm around the changing situation. Try to minimize unpredictable schedules and abrupt changes to plans. Maintaining consistency in bedtimes, eating and homework schedules, chores or other household rules supports a sense of normalcy.
Spouses should be very conscious of how they treat each other in front of their children. Arguments, heated discussions, and conflict can be emotionally damaging on kids of divorce. And each parent should be mindful of how they and others speak about their soon-to-be former spouse in front of children. That person will become their ex, but it is the child’s mother or father.
Continue to Be the Parent
Healthy relationships will get children through divorce long term. It’s imperative that kids have separate time with both parents in order to nurture relationships and build lasting memories. Former spouses working together civilly is vital to children and sets a path for a healthy future, even should stepfamilies enter the picture.
At TCMSC Law, our goal is to develop a resolution that upholds your wellbeing as well as your children’s. If you are going through a divorce, contact us for a consultation.