Going through a divorce is a challenging process for all involved. But while the spouses are arguing and fighting to “win” the divorce, children get swept to the side. This is tragic because divorce is incredibly difficult and confusing for a child. Often, Kids are torn between both parents. Divorce and children are never a positive combination, but sometimes reality gives us no choice.
Divorce and Children – How to Make It Easier
It is important for parents to recognize and address the issues related to divorce and children quickly, carefully, and consistently. It may be impossible to save a marriage, but that should have as little impact as possible on any young people involved. Here are fives ways to make divorce and children a little easier:
Be Open and Honest
Remember that for children, divorce is probably a completely unfamiliar process. And since a child’s parents are at the center of his or her world, the end of a marriage is a particularly disturbing and anxiety-inducing time for a child. It is not uncommon for kids to blame themselves. They may believe that they can save their parent’s marriage if they just try hard enough. As the parents, it is your responsibility to understand the issues involved with divorce and children. Then make accommodations before addressing any other part of the process. The needs of the child are more important than any of the needs of the parents.
Your child is going to have a lot of questions about what is going on and why. Some will be irrational, while others will be deeply personal. You can help to minimize the effects of divorce and children by answering as many of these questions as possible. But it is important to do this delicately. First and foremost, honesty is always the best policy. And if there is something that it is inappropriate for a child to know, redirect the question rather than lying. Children do not need to know petty, bitter, or complicated details about your marriage. You must absolutely resist the urge to use your divorce and children as a sounding board, or as a platform to disparage your former spouse.
Keep Things Consistent
Divorce may have turned your life on its head, but it is up to you to insulate your kids from those changes. When so much is changing in a child’s life, it is essential to maintain some consistency wherever possible. That means sticking to routines, carrying out treasured traditions, and not making the divorce the center of the child’s reality. Remember that for the children of divorce parents, nothing is the same as it was before. It is up to you to limit the shakeup created by divorce and children.
Seek Out Counseling
A divorce is a major event in anyone’s life. That is why seeking out a counselor to vocalize issues and work through problems can be so helpful to both you and your children. This might mean going as a family, or it could be more beneficial for you child to attend alone. Look for a counselor who specializes in divorce and children, and let your child dictate the terms as much as possible. If the child chooses to attend alone, do not interrogate them afterward about what was said and done. Parents can be a big help. But there are times when being able to speak to a neutral third party in a private way is what a kid needs most. Above all, remember that this counseling is about the kids, not about you and your divorce.
For the entirety of their lives, your children have looked to you for guidance and understanding. Since divorce is such and all-consuming and destructive process, it can leave children feeling like they no longer have a compass in the world. In cases of divorce and children, it is common for kids to start acting out or behaving in uncharacteristic ways. This is normal and even healthy to a certain extent. But it is not something to be ignored or dismissed. The end of a marriage does not mean the end, or even interruption, of parental responsibilities.
Navigating through the issues of divorce and children requires a careful balancing act. You do not want to involve the child too much in the divorce process. But you do want to be honest and upfront about what is going on. Strongly consider the effect that a divorce will have on your family. Less aggressive options for ending a marriage like exist like mediation. Conversely, if you are worried that you spouse will neglect the needs of a child after divorce, you will want to pursue an aggressive divorce strategy that puts your child’s best interests first.