A divorce attorney can help you with many things during your divorce, but helping your children through the process is something that parents have to handle themselves. Getting kids to understand divorce and help them through it is never easy, and there is no simple answer for how to do it right. That said, there are some things that parents can do to help their children deal with the divorce:
- Set a time to tell them – When you tell your children about the divorce, it should be at a planned time that you and your ex-partner agree on. This will give you both the opportunity to prepare what you tell them, and to let them know in a safe, prepared environment. Do not just let the info slip, or go around your partner to tell the children when it is advantageous to you. Be sure to tell them everything they need to know about how their lives will change, but keep it simple enough that they will understand what’s going on, depending on their age.
- Remind them it’s not their fault – Children tend to internalize negative events in their lives and blame themselves when they happen. Your divorce will be no exception. From the moment you tell your children about the divorce, tell them as often as necessary that it is not their fault, and that it is a decision that the two of you made together. Remind them that both their parents still love them, and that both of you will still be there for them.
- Minimize disruptions to the kids’ daily routine – When their parents are getting divorced, one of the most important things children need is stability. Watching their parents split up will be a source of a lot of anger, sadness, and confusion, especially in younger children, and keeping them on a familiar routine will help minimize even more disruption in their normal lives. Drop them off and pick them up at school at the same time, keep the usual meal schedule, and put them to bed at the normal time as much as is possible while the divorce is going on.
- Create a support network – Children whose parents are divorcing need a lot of emotional support and people they can talk to, as well as people to keep an eye out for concerning or abnormal behavior. Let the kids’ teachers, friends’ parents, and other adults in their lives know what is going on, so that they can help monitor the situation and make sure that the children are getting the support they need during the divorce.
- Keep arguments and details away from the children – It’s important for you and your soon-to-be ex to remember to keep arguments, anger, and other negative elements of the divorce between yourselves, and not to involve the children. Try to keep them away from the negativity, legal matters, and arguments as much as possible. Do not use the children as messengers, or to talk out your issues with your spouse. Those matters belong in the courtroom and the therapists’ office, not in the living room with your children. It’s okay to let children know how you feel, but not to use them as an outlet to vent or sort out your issues with your ex.
- Ask for help – Divorce is an emotionally straining time for everyone involved. Don’t be afraid to ask for friends or relatives to help you with the kids, or to go to a therapist to talk out your issues in a safe, private space. If the kids are having trouble with the divorce, consider talking to the other parent about sending the child to a therapist. Whatever help you need, it is better to ask for it than try to handle it all yourself when you are not able to do so.
For more information on divorce and how to make your way through the process, call McFarling Law Group at 702-565-4335.