Divorce impacts every member of a family, and often times those who feel the impact most are the children who never had any say in the decision to dissolve a marriage. When things get contentious, it’s sometimes easy for parents to focus so much on getting a positive outcome that they lose sight of what collateral damage is being imposed onto their children. In order to make this huge transition as smooth as possible for your children, you and your ex should keep these five tips in mind, especially when things start to get heated.
- Communicate, in a productive way. Answer your children’s questions about divorce in a way that helps them to understand what’s going on. You should tailor your message according to your child’s age and encourage them to ask questions about how divorce will or, more importantly will not impact their relationships with other family members. Always make it clear to your children that they are not the reason for your divorce.
- Avoid trashing your ex. No child deserves to hear anyone speak ill about their parent or parents, and you should respect their right to be a kid. Your child is not your therapist or your friend with whom you can vent about your frustrations as they relate to your ex. Let adults worry about adult issues.
- Be consistent. Work with your ex to have consistent rules and routines on things like chores, homework, bed time, screen time, and modes of discipline. By doing so, you can provide your child with a sense of stability that will help them get accustomed to going back and forth between homes.
- Give them someone to talk to. It’s important to provide your child with a safe space where he or she can talk to a counselor or therapist about their anxieties and frustrations as they stem from your divorce. It’s common for children to withhold their feelings from one or both parents, especially when either parent’s feelings of animosity toward the other are apparent. If possible, seek out a counselor or therapist who specializes in dealing with children of divorce. You can also seek out someone who specializes in dealing with specific age groups (eg pre-adolescents, teens).
- Be present. Make a point of showing up to support your child or children at their sports or activities, even ones that are scheduled to occur during your ex’s custodial time. As mentioned, your child deserves to have two loving and supportive parents, even if you are no longer married to one another.
Unfortunately, divorce is always going to be difficult for your children to understand and to process. But by adhering to these five points, you and your ex can help ease this transition and eventually help your children to settle into a new routine.
To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at LaMonaca Law at (610) 892-3877