Regardless of whether a divorce ends up in court or a collaborative negotiation, it is still stressful. After divorce, spouses have to adjust to a new life.
However, it is critical to remember that children experience this stress as well and that divorce is no easier for them. Here are some tips on how to help kids through the divorce process.
1. Talk about the divorce, but do not talk about the other parent
Parents might want to avoid telling their children about the divorce for as long as possible. They try to wait for the right time or protect them.
Most of the time, telling children sooner rather than later is a good approach for parents. It gives children more time to adjust to this new reality. It is also helpful for parents to:
- Explain their reasons for divorcing, emphasizing that it is not the child's fault
- Ensure their child knows they are open to discussing the matter
- Frequently ask children how they are feeling
- Talk about how and when things might change
There is a delicate balance to discussing divorce with children. While it is often beneficial to address matters with kids, it is a good idea to avoid talking about the other parent. Speaking negatively or complaining about the other parent can have a significant impact on the way children think of both of their parents.
2. Allow children to feel their emotions
It is important to ask children how they feel. However, they might not always want to talk about it--or be able to articulate how they feel, for that matter.
Just as both spouses experience various emotions during a divorce, so do their children. Children might feel sad, angry and even more anxious about the future than usual.
Sometimes, the pressure of these emotions can cause children to lash out or disengage in their school work or social life. It is critical for parents to be prepared to help their children through this time with compassion while still letting their children work through their emotions.
3. Try to minimize conflict
Every divorce is different. In some cases, both spouses agree to divorce and pursue a collaborative approach. Others might involve bitter disputes that rehash old arguments.
Regardless of the situation, it is beneficial for divorcing parents to avoid arguing in front of their kids. Some ways that parents can reduce the chance of a dispute include:
- Focusing conversation around their children, not their personal feelings
- Avoiding negative language and tones, even sarcasm
- Concentrating on the future, instead of discussing the past
Divorce is challenging. There is no doubt about that. However, putting children first and following these tips can help the whole family navigate the challenges.