Divorce can be extremely stressful on children who may not understand what is happening when their parents decide to split up and why.
If you and your spouse have decided to divorce and have children, divorce attorneys find that even besides the issues of child custody, you must also face the issue of helping your children through the process as painlessly as possible because Mom and Dad divorcing can be a scary and upsetting time for children.
These tips from an experienced divorce law firm can help you reassure your kids and reduce the stress for them as you all move into the next chapter of your lives.
1. Talk About It - The Right Way
Telling your children that you and your spouse have decided to divorce will not be easy; however, it’s a discussion that should happen sooner rather than later once you’ve made the final decision to divorce.
Although it’s recommended by divorce lawyers and psychologists alike that you leave out any particularly upsetting details, tell them the truth, be prepared for the questions that will come, and reassure them that you love them very much and they will still have a mother and father even if living situations change a bit.
2. Reassure That It’s Not Their Fault
Many children assume that when their parents divorce, it’s due to something they did wrong.
It’s important to reassure your children that this decision is purely one that you and your spouse have come to about each other and that they have done nothing to cause you to seek a divorce.
You and your spouse should continue to reassure your kids and show them love and support to alleviate any feelings that they have done something bad.
3. Explain Upcoming Changes and Decisions
With divorce, comes substantial changes to the family unit, which is why divorce attorneys recommend that you start explaining those changes to your children ahead of time so they know what to expect and can begin acclimating to the idea that these changes will be happening.
Unexpected upheavals in a child’s life can be extremely stressful, so discussing it before it happens is known to help kids cope.
4. Encourage Them to Speak - Then Listen
Let your kids know that their feelings are important and you want to help them through stress and whatever emotions they might be feeling; once they do open up to you, listen to them and validate their feelings.
Help them articulate what they might be feeling, then find ways to soothe the stress and pain by reassuring, explaining, and loving.
5. Avoid Fighting In Front of the Kids
Divorce is already hard enough on children who may struggle with thinking they are the cause of it, become afraid, or worry about what will happen to them.
Seeing you and your spouse fighting or even worse being violent with each other will only make them scared and concerned.
Divorce lawyers suggest that you avoid having heated arguments in front of the kids and don’t bad-mouth your spouse in front of them either.
6. Get Counseling If Necessary
Younger children or those taking the divorce particularly hard may benefit from talking to a counselor.
A family therapist experienced with divorce can be instrumental in helping your children understand what’s happening and why in order to come to terms with it while understanding it’s not their fault.
7. Maintain Routines Whenever Possible
A prime cause of stress in kids of all ages is changes to their routine.
The more stability you can provide for your kids such as the same routines that they can count on, the less stressful and scary the divorce will be for them.
Consider the Kids While Working Through Divorce
The stress of divorce affects the entire family when there are children involved.
Because children have no control over what is happening or why it’s happening, divorce attorneys agree that it’s important for parents to be open and honest with them during this time as well as give them the extra love and support needed to help them cope.