Divorce can be a painful time for families. For couples who have children, this time can be even more stressful. Helping your child through a divorce is an integral part of separating from your spouse.
Here’s how you can help your child understand the divorce as well as how to cope with it in a healthy way.
When telling your child about the divorce, try your best to be sure that both parents are present. Explain the divorce in simple terms and open the conversation to a discussion with your child. During this talk, reassure your child that they still have both parents and that both parents love them.
Don’t attempt to make excuses for your spouse or for why things happened the way they did. Your children don’t need to know details, just that you and your spouse are separating and from now on, things will be a little different. It’s important to approach the divorce from an honest yet simple perspective.
If at all possible, be sure to minimize the disruption that comes with divorce in your child’s life. This includes disruption to their routines in addition to conflict. Conflict should never happen in front of your child—this includes talking bad about your former spouse, arguments with your spouse, or legal discussions.
Do your best to keep your child’s routine as normal as possible. If their schedule must change, make a new schedule and stick to it. Keeping negativity away from the house is important. If you need to talk or vent, meet a friend or schedule an appointment with a counselor. Never expose your children to conflict with your spouse, whether through arguments with your spouse or venting on the phone to a friend.
Keep an Open Discussion
While the divorce is going on, it’s important to keep an open line of communication between you and your child. Talk about their feelings and let them know that it’s normal to feel sad or angry. If they need to talk, allow them to come to you. Check in with your child and reassure them that nothing that’s happening is their fault.
Be aware that children will need time to adjust to the situation in addition to support and communication from both parents. Your child may act out or withdrawal depending on how they’re feeling. Make it clear your child is loved above all.
Being a mother or a father doesn’t stop just because a divorce is taking place. Though your family is undergoing a change, your child can receive loving support from both parents. To help your child through a divorce, be honest yet clear and try to keep their lives as normal as possible. Remember that talking about feelings either as a family or with a family counselor can be greatly beneficial. You can and will make it through this difficult time.