Divorce and breakups are difficult for children regardless of age. Kids feel angry and uncertain at the prospects of dad and mom splitting. As a parent you have an obligation to make this process less difficult and stressful for your children. Assisting children cope with divorce means providing stability in your home and attending to the needs of the children with a positive and reassuring attitude. Keep in mind that in spite of your best efforts, the process will not be seamless.
As a parent you may have a hard time figuring out how to give the right support to your children during divorce or breakup. For most parents, this is uncharted territory; however you can navigate successfully through this process and assist your kids to emerge feeling confident, loved and strong.
Children adjusting to the new changes that come with divorce or separation require a lot of reassurance, patience and a listening ear to minimize tension. Providing routines that kids can rely on will help the children to learn that they can count on you for stability, care and structure. On the other hand, if you can maintain a working relationship with your ex-partner, you can assist the children avoid stress that comes from watching parents in conflict. This transitional time will not be without some hardships, but you can make the process less difficult by following these tips:
1. Tell the truth
Your children deserves the right to know why you are getting divorced or separated, however they do not necessarily need all the details and reasons about the divorce since these will only confuse them. Choose to give them simple honest facts about what has happened and why you and the ex-partner cannot get along. Children may get distressed about this and worry about their future. To help calm their fears, you need to explain to them that though children and parents do not always agree on everything, children and parents do not divorce.
2. Avoid blaming your ex-partner
Each parent involved in separation or divorce feels like a victim and usually tends to blame the other partner for breakup. The feeling of being a victim are often unavoidable, however you do not have to believe those feelings.
Being honest with your children about what led to the separation or divorce without blaming your ex-partner is critical especially if there were hurtful events such as infidelity. If it is possible try to agree in advance with your ex on an explanation for your divorce or separation and stick to it. Plan to talk with your children before any changes in the living arrangements take place.
3. Assist children express their feelings
Children perceive divorce as a loss; this is true since the children lose the life they knew. You can help the children grieve and adjust to new circumstances by supporting their feelings. Children normally have a hard time expressing how they feel, assist them by noticing their moods and encouraging them to talk. When they share their feelings, listen to them. Acknowledge the feelings of your children though you may not necessarily be able to fix their problems or convert their sadness to happiness. Acknowledging their feelings rather than dismissing them will inspire trust as this indicates that you understand.
4. Provide stability and structure
Adjusting to the many new things that come with divorce can be very difficult. You need to assist your children change by providing as much stability and structure as possible in their daily lives. Keep in mind that establishing stability, continuity and structures does not mean that you need rigid schedules. Try to create regular routines and communicate this to your children consistently. Routines and structures are highly comforting to children. Kids feel safer and more secure when they know what to expect. Something as simple as keeping their dinnertime followed by a bath consistent can ease the child’s worry unlike giving verbal assurances.
5. Reassure your children about your love and commitment
It may sound simple to let your children know that you love them, however this is critical. Letting your children know that you still love and care for them will assist them to feel reassured.
6. Keep the details and arguments in check
There is always going to be the occasional argument between parents even in healthy relationships, however living in a battleground of continual hostility and unresolved conflict places a heavy burden on children.
Take the necessary precautions to ensure privacy when discussing the details of divorce with family, lawyer or friends. If possible keep your interactions with your ex civil especially when interacting in the presence of your kids. If the discussion is likely to degenerate into an argument, try to do it elsewhere but not in front of the children. In addition, keep letters, emails and text messages in a secure location as children will be naturally curious especially when they notice there is a conflict going on at home.