Going through a divorce can be a tough situation for everyone. Children are one of the main losers in a divorce, as it is a stressful and confusing time for them. As a result, they react in different ways; some of the reactions may include shock, sadness, frustration, anger, or worry. Therefore, you need to find a way to help your children to cope with divorce so that it does not have an adverse effect on their future.
Reaction from children differs and may depend on their age, personality, and the circumstances of the divorce. No doubt, you have enough on your mind as the divorce process goes on. However, your goal should be to help kids through this difficult time. There’s a lot you can do to help your children cope with divorce and minimize the adverse effects it can have on them.
Tips That Will Help Your Children Cope With Divorce
1. How To Break The News To Them
The news about Mom and Dad having a divorce has a varying effect for a two-year-old, and a ten-year-old since their level of understanding is different. Therefore, you should figure out the best way to break the news to them. You want to give them just enough information but do not overwhelm them with too much. If possible, you and your partner should be present for this conversation. It’s vital to try to leave feelings of anger, guilt, or blame out of it.
For your kids five years and below, their ability to understand complex events is very low. As a result, you want to give only simple, concrete explanations. Tell them which parent will be moving out, where the child will live. Also, explain who will look after him and how often he’ll see the other parent. Meanwhile, you want to reassure them how their regular routines will work out, and they will still get consistent care.
For your kids from age 6 to 9 years old, they have a little more understanding but have limited knowledge of complicated circumstances. You also want to give a concrete and straightforward explanation and explain how their care and routines will be provided.
Furthermore, explain that the decision to divorce is an adult choice, that they didn’t cause it. Approaching the topic indirectly will help them to talk more about what they’re feeling.
Children from 12 years and above have a better ability to understand issues related to divorce. You want to engage them in discussions and give explanations to their question to increase their understanding. Besides, having open communication decreases the chance that emotional problems will go unnoticed. However, do not insist on talking when your child refuses to listen. You want to be patient and try as much as possible to keep them out of the divorce proceedings. Children in this age bracket will best hear about the divorce from you than to get hold of it from outside the home.
2. Reassure them that you love them always
Children can easily assume blame when a parent leaves home. They might feel they would have somehow prevented the situation by “being more fun or better behaved”. As a result, their self-esteem might be affected negatively. So, reassure them that you still love them and that you will both go on caring for them. Inform them there will be many opportunities to spend time with both parents. You have to be consistent in playing your usual role even after the divorce. For example, if your kids regularly confide in you before the divorce, you want to still be available for this role even after the divorce.
3. Maintain Old Routine
It would be best if you tried to keep daily routines the same or keep it as close as possible with only little changes. Doing this will help your child see the new arrangement with calm and avoid over-reacting. For instance, extracurricular activities, visits with family and friends, dropping, and pickups from school should be consistent.
For younger kids, routines are essential, so they should remain as normal as possible. Always remember and join in important events in your kid’s life that you usually participate in.
4. Maintain A Good Support System
Maintaining a sound support system is vital for helping your children cope with divorce. Ask questions that will help you understand their feelings better. You can try to create an environment where your child will feel comfortable opening up to you—for example, sitting together in a park, taking a walk, or playing a sport together.
Have relatives that your kids are comfortable with to come over to the house. They can also provide needed support to your kids. You can get help for your kids by seeing a psychologist or join support groups for children of divorced parents.
5. Maintain A Civil Relationship with the other parent
It would help if you tried to maintain a civil relationship with the other parent. Communicate directly with the other parent, and don’t use your children as messengers. Also, agree on rules and discipline so that your child will have consistency. However, you want to avoid blaming and painting the other parent as a bad parent.
Above all, never try to make your child take sides either with you or the other parent. Don’t undermine the other parent’s authority or decision he or she has made. You want to be flexible for your child’s benefit, and sometimes you can adjust your schedule to accommodate an emergency.
6. Ensure Peaceful Transition
After agreeing and concluding on living arrangements, you want to discuss it with your kids. You should be clear about the plans that have been made because you need their cooperation for it to be successful. Besides, they have a right to know the decisions that are being made on their behalf. However, it would be best to respect older kids’ feelings about where they want to live. Doing this will enable a peaceful transition and will help your children to cope better during the divorce process.
Ensure to keep out arguments and quarrel with the other parent, that situation can make your child tense and anxious. When there is too much conflict when you meet your ex, it might push the other parent to stay away.
7. Keep Open Communication
Open communication will help you get to understand your child’s situation better. Encourage your child to express disappointment without lashing out in anger. Moreover, this will allow you to correct the misconceptions and wrong ideas they have. Also, persuade them to talk to the other parent about their concerns.
As hard as a divorce can be on a parent, it can be much harder for kids. Although they might not fully understand the situation or misinterpret what they see, the effect of divorce on them can be devastating. Therefore, you should view their interest as paramount in making your decision. As you apply these tips to help your children cope with divorce, you want to be patient with them.
Nanna Daniels is a legal practitioner and writer. His practice as a lawyer and a writer is as diverse as his client base. His client ranges from government bodies to banks, private companies in real estate, energy companies, telecommunications to small businesses, families, and individuals.
He is a passionate and diligent analyst of family, sports and business concepts, providing in-depth knowledge and analysis. He has covered topics ranging from family, parenting to entrepreneurship.