Going through a divorce is already complicated enough. You may have to deal with financial hardship after a divorce, and perhaps even seek therapy for yourself. However, all things considered, you have other important dependents in your life to look after: your children. And there are many cases where children don’t take divorce well.
Although divorce affects children differently depending on their age, there’s no denying that a divorce introduces massive change to any lifestyle, regardless of age. According to Psychology Today, a divorce will intensify a younger child’s dependence, while it will heighten an adolescent’s independence. Additionally, a child will become more regressive, while an adolescent will become more aggressive.
Knowing the right way to handle your children through a divorce is crucial to ensure that everyone moves on in the most forward, progressive way possible.
Break the News Appropriately
How you tell your kids about the breakup will likely stick with them forever, and there are many ways you can approach the situation. First and foremost, be certain of your plans. Consistency is very important here, and too much back and forth will only stifle your children’s ability to move on, too.
Practice your ability to stay neutral by chatting with a friend. This means keeping out too much emotion, like sadness or anger. No one wants to see their parent cry, or blame the other in anger. If the other person wasn’t faithful in the marriage, avoid discussing it with the kids. It’s up to both parents to decide what they want to reveal and how, but it should always be delivered in the most neutral manner possible.
The most important message that you should deliver should be that it has nothing to do with the children, and that being apart will actually make the family even better than before. Hype up the perks, even when you don’t feel that their are any: two houses means double the snacks, for example.
Keep Legal Talk Away From Them
It may feel like your children don’t understand or aren’t paying attention, but the truth is, even younger children can pick up on heated tones and tense energy. Too much talk about legalities can make children feel as though the divorce is transactional and cold, rather than a joint family decision. With that in mind, you also want to avoid talking to your friends or family about it front of them, especially when you feel very strongly about the subject and are assigning blame to the other. Quinn & Lynch, P.A. can be of great assistance when it comes to keeping things professional during a divorce.
Don’t Disrupt Their Routines
Your children are used to a certain routine, and you should do your best to minimize any disruption to that routine. For instance, if they are accustomed to going to dance practice twice a week after class, but your significant other was the person who picked them up and can no longer do so, make arrangements to have them accommodated. By minimizing disruptions, you’re allowing them to maintain as much normality in their lives as possible.
Your kids will likely have questions and concerns about what the future holds, even if they don’t openly admit this. This is why your reassurance is so important. There are many ways to reassure them: let them know how much both parents love them, and how you are all still a part of a family. Additionally, keep reminding them that separate households aren’t what makes people a family. Tell your children that as parents and kids, you are all still a team, and need to count on one another to keep the family strong.
Speak to a Therapist
Sometimes, children don’t want to talk to their parents about how they feel, especially older children. This is why you should give them the opportunity to speak to a therapist—but don’t force it. Let them know that you speak to a therapist too, and there’s nothing wrong with it. If your are considering online therapy, make sure to visit www.betterhelp.com for more information.
The fact is, no matter how hard you try to be as neutral and powerful as you can, a therapist is trained to offer the right kind of advice to children going through a tough time like a divorce. Your child might also find that it’s easier to express themselves to a confidential third party.