If you are a parent going through a divorce, you know how emotionally challenging and stressful it can be. You may be extremely worried about your child’s emotional well-being, safety, and future, or you may be worried you are losing valuable time with your children.
A separation or divorce is a stressful and emotional event for everyone involved, but children may often feel like everything has been turned upside down. No matter how old you are, it can be traumatic to witness your parents’ marriage end and the family’s breakup.
However, by providing your child with patience, reassurance, and a listening ear, it is possible to reduce some of the stress your child may be going through while also teaching them healthy coping skills to manage change. Establishing routines will offer your child stability, structure, and care during this difficult time.
If you can maintain a working relationship with your ex, it can help reduce the stress and upset that comes with watching parents in conflict. Your support will help your child navigate this difficult time while also empowering them with love, confidence, and strength to create an even stronger relationship with your child.
Attorney Kris Balekian Hayes has been through the divorce process herself as a parent and now helps other parents navigate the often difficult and overwhelming process. She understands that the most important priority during a divorce is to protect your family.
Based on her life experience and expertise, she offers parents the following advice while going through a divorce.
Advice for Divorced Parents
- Begin your co-parenting relationship on the right foot. You will have a lifetime of dealing with your ex after a divorce if you have children, so try and start on the right foot with flexibility and generosity.
- Keep your children out of the divorce at all costs. Healthy kids are those that know that mom and dad love them dearly but are just going to live apart from now on. This also means you should not talk badly about your ex in front of your children. Research has shown that the single most important factor in long-term adjustment for kids going through a divorce is the amount of parental conflict they witness. Kids are put in a tough spot if they have to take sides or listen to negative things about one of their parents.
- Don’t bring someone new too quickly around your child. It’s tempting to be excited about your newfound happiness but know that your child is also trying to adjust to their new life. They may not be as excited as you are about your new partner. When it is time to introduce a new stepparent make sure all parties are aware of the agreed-upon boundaries. This means don’t allow stepparents to intervene unless agreed by all parties. A new set of opinions can make life more challenging for your child.
- It may seem easier to use your kids as messengers, but there are many other appropriate ways to communicate with your ex. It’s also important not to question your child about what’s happening in the other household. Kids may become resentful if they’re being asked to “spy” on their parents. As much as you can, communicate directly with the other parent about scheduling, visitation, health issues, or school problems.