Every year, literally thousands of children experience the stress of divorce. The nature and intensity of their reaction will depend on their age, maturity, and the circumstances of their parents’ divorce, but practically all kids will experience some degree of sadness, anger, and worry.
Fortunately, it is possible for you to substantially reduce their pain by making their emotional wellbeing a priority. Here are five tips that can help your children emerge from the ordeal firm in the knowledge that they are still loved and cared for.
Tip No. 1: Give Careful Thought to What You Say and How You Say It
Put aside your own feelings so that you can approach this conversation with honesty and empathy. Once you’re ready, simply tell the truth. A long-winded explanation is not necessary and may even confuse younger children, but you can tell them that sometimes parents don’t get along any more and that does not change how they feel about their kids in any way. Saying “I love you” will send a powerful message.
Tip No. 2: Let Them Know They Are Not To Blame
Younger children in particular are prone to believing that they are somehow to blame for their parents breaking up. They will recall times they talked back to you, got in trouble, or did something that caused discord in the household. Reassure them that this is an adult decision that has nothing to do with them at all.
Tip No. 3: Address Upcoming Changes
Your kids will naturally be worried about upcoming changes to their lives. Where are they going to live? Will they have to go to a new school and make new friends? Be honest and acknowledge that some things may change while others won’t, but emphasize that you and their other parent will be there to prepare them for each new situation as it arises.
Tip No. 4: Avoid Blaming Your Spouse
Be honest with the children, but not to the extent that you criticize your spouse. This can be understandably difficult, especially if he or she hurt you badly, but unless abuse or neglect are involved, whatever triggered the divorce should not be allowed to damage the kids’ relationship with their other parent.
Tip No. 5: Preserve Certain Routines and Establish New Ones
Children feel more secure when they know what to expect. Preserve whatever routines remain feasible under the changed circumstances, and help them prepare for new ones. For example, if they are going to be attending a new school, arrange a preliminary visit.
Your love, reassurances, and empathy will increase confidence and minimize anxiety as your children adjust to the new circumstances. If you can maintain a positive co-parenting arrangement with your former spouse, it can also lessen anxiety and pain. Ongoing and loving support will help your kids successfully navigate this challenging time and emerge feeling confident, strong, and loved.
If you are planning on filing for divorce in Texas and have concerns about how to make the process easier for your kids, contact the Von Dohlen Law Firm today. In addition to being legal professionals, we are parents ourselves, and can provide the empathetic advice and insights that will benefit you and your children as you move forward.