Going through a divorce can be exceptionally stressful for both parents. But for their children, the divorce process can be confusing and scary. They might not fully understand the process and they may even be angry at their parents.
Through effective communication with your children, you can stabilize the home and provide them with comfort by attending to their needs and reassuring them that all will be well soon. Here are some tips on how to successfully manage your relationship with your children during the divorce process.
1. Breaking The News
Telling your children about your divorce is the toughest part and many parents get confused as to how to break the news. A great tip would be for you and your former partner to discuss what to say beforehand so you can deal with your own anxieties ahead of time and carefully plan everything. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be upfront and not beat around the bush. Give your children a kid friendly version of the news but straight away tell them the truth. There is no need to give a super long explanation. Even something as simple as, “We don’t get along anymore but we still love you very much” works. Once you tell them, re-assure them that you both love them and even though some things will be different, both parents will always love them and care for them.
Avoid any sort of blaming and do not be critical of your spouse. It is important to be respectful of your spouse as arguing will only worsen the situation. It is also important to inform them of their new living situation. Tell them which parents they will be living with and when and where they will be visiting the other. Make sure to speak to your child support lawyer before hand to be sure of the final upcoming child custody and visitation situation.
2. Communicate at Every Step in the Process
It’s not easy to speak with children about a sensitive subject, especially when you’re feeling strong emotions yourself, but you have to make yourself strong first to ensure your children make it through. The most important element to reinforce throughout communication with your children is that you both love them and, no matter what happens, you’ll always be there with them. It’s important to address any changes to their home life before they take place. Tell children that, while some elements of their home life might be different from now on, you will go through the process together.
3. Support Your Child Throughout
Throughout the entire process, you have to give your child the right support. This will help them strongly emerge from it and the way to go that is by providing them with unconditional love through the tough phase and some privacy at the same time. Make sure your kids feel important and not neglected, and have a feeling of trust and reliability. Ensure that the activities they were previously a part of are still present, such as after school hobbies.
4. Encourage Your Child to Communicate
Children’s minds are incredibly creative. They can devise their own understanding of a new situation, if they’re not able to get answers to their questions. This means that you should encourage your children to communicate their feelings on the new arrangement within their home.
Tell them that their thoughts are important and that any questions they have will be answered truthfully by yourself or your former partner. Remember to respond immediately to the child’s anger. Teach them that, while their frustration is understandable, they can voice their disappointment without lashing out.
Some children might be uncomfortable speaking directly with either parent about their feelings. Try to get the child to communicate their thoughts via an email or through letters. This will ensure you remain open to communication with them, but also provides them the comfort of knowing they’re free to express themselves in their own way.
5. Divert Their Attention
Take a walk in the park or watch a movie with your child! Indulging in a fun activity of any sort will help take their mind off the situation and help time go by faster and reduce stress.
6. Give Children the Comfort of a Routine
All children appreciate discipline. Even if, in the moment, they express anger or annoyance at having to do their homework at a certain time or eat dinner with the family on a set schedule, they will benefit from routines in the long-term. Creating and maintaining a set schedule for the home will allow the child to acclimatize to their new environment.
This means that you must work with your former partner to establish a set schedule for the child and their activities in both homes. It also means that both you and your partner should resist the temptation to break limits and give lavish gifts to the child during this difficult time. Maintaining a sense of normality within their schedule will help children find comfort more quickly.
7. Post-Divorce Action : Strong Parenting and Your Own Well Being
Through the divorce process, you can develop stronger bonds with your children. But it’s important to respect their sense of wonder and their need for communication throughout. Through a commitment to understanding their children, parents can make it through the divorce process with a healthy home life and a relationship with their children built upon mutual respect.
During this time it is important to take care of your own self as well. You will be better equipped to take care of your children if you are feeling positive yourself. Exercise often and eat a healthy diet to feel good. Talk to family and friends and even see a therapist if you must.
Ensure there are no conflicts with your ex in front of your children. If you need to debate on something, take it elsewhere by discussing the matter in private. It is important for your children to have a good relationship with both of you and that will come much more easily when both parents maintain a neutral positive relationship post-divorce. It can be tough to get a long and problems will always arise but it is best to just let it go and maintain a positive attitude for yourself and your children.
8. Reactions to Divorce and Red Flags
Divorce is always tough on kids and feelings of anger, anxiety and mild depression are expected and normal. Help lessen those feelings with the above mentioned tips. However, if there are situations of sleep problems, poor concentration, drugs, self injury and violence occurring, do not ignore them. If you notice any of these warning signs, discuss them with your child’s doctor for guidance on coping.