Divorce can have the most devastating effects on children. Though they have no say in whether their parents separate and have no blame, they often bear the brunt of the trauma of splitting up a family. They no longer see both parents together every day; they see their parents in less than their best light, and frequently at their worst; they worry how these changes will impact their regular lives. What can parents do to minimize the blow and ease the transition to separate households?
As this wonderful guide describes, parents need to listen to their children first – hear their concerns and fears, and respond with patience and reassurance. They will want both parents to stay involved, to stop fighting and to love equally.
Additionally, parents should not talk negatively about the other parent nor use the child as the messenger – do not put the child in the middle.
When it comes time to tell the children about the divorce, do it together if possible. Tell them the truth, reaffirm your love and explain what the living situation will be in straightforward terms.
As kids process their emotions, be there to listen and do not take offense. If they need additional sounding boards, consider counseling.
Kids tend to be creatures of routine, so during the transition and after, help them stay in their routines at both households, and work together as parents to continue all activities. Try and have the households use the same rules, especially on big issues. Keeping the same routines at both houses helps the kids know that they cannot game one parent against the other, and also that rules matter.
Co-parenting requires communication, so you and your ex need to put the kids first and set aside your differences to do what is in the best interests of the children.
Following these very basic but critically important steps can do wonders for your children during a difficult time.
If you have questions about helping your kids through divorce, contact us – we can help.