9 Things You Can Do to Make Your Divorce Easier on Your Kids
You and your spouse are divorcing. Although you know it’s best for both of you, you’re concerned about how it will affect the mental health and well-being of your kids.
If you’re struggling with your divorce, you can only imagine how your kids are feeling. These parenting tips will help you understand what your kids are going through and how you can help.
Understanding what kids go through during divorce
For kids, their parents’ divorce is a time of high anxiety. They have relied on their married parents to keep their world a loving, safe, and secure place. Now, they’re going to have divorced parents. What does this mean for them?
It means they will likely feel confused, anxious, and worried about their future. They may feel somehow responsible for your break-up. They may worry that if you and your spouse can stop loving each other, you might also stop loving them.
With united co-parenting, you and your ex can help your children experience reassurance and love through this difficult time.
Tips to help kids through divorce
1. Tell the kids honestly and appropriately
One of the hardest things you’ll have to do is tell the kids about your plans to divorce. Frame your announcement in a way the kids will understand. Listen closely, and answer their questions in age-appropriate ways. Provide ample reassurance that your divorce was not caused by them in any way. Remind them that their mom and dad love them and always will. Try to maintain control of your own emotions; they will have enough of their own.
2. Explain what is happening before it happens
Changes will be coming fast and furious at your kids. You or your soon-to-be ex may be moving out. They may need to change schools or start living in two homes. Regardless, their living arrangements are going to change.
As much as is age-appropriate, tell the kids what to expect, and encourage them to ask questions and process the information.
3. Keep conflict in check
No matter how you feel about your ex, these emotions shouldn’t play out for your kids to see. Keep any emotionally charged conversations out of their earshot. Don’t say negative things about each other around the kids.
4. Model cooperative co-parenting
When it comes to the kids, your primary role is a co-parent, and your co-parenting should be cooperative and respectful. Your children should be able to have healthy relationships with both mom and dad.
Encourage and be supportive of the time that they spend with your ex. Don’t draw them into your parental conflicts or have them relay information between you.
5. Keep their routines as intact as possible
Life is changing all around them. Although some changes will be unavoidable, try to keep your kids’ daily routines as consistent as possible to maintain a sense of peace and stability.
Read: Common Parenting Time Schedules: Which Plan Is Right for You?
6. Schedule extra one-on-one time
Your kids will need lots of reassurance and love right now. Carve extra time into your schedule to spend quality time with them without distraction. Consider planning fun activities that help make them feel cared for and less vulnerable.
7. Encourage them to express their feelings
Your kids will have many feelings about your divorce. Encourage and validate their feelings. Answer their questions as honestly as you can while being respectful of your ex. You want your kids to be able to talk about things that bother them. Take heed of how you respond so they don’t feel judged or worried about hurting you with their questions.
Children of divorce each have their own unique experience. Younger children may not have the words to convey how they’re feeling. They may regress and become needier. Adolescents may be angry. They may blame one parent and align with the other. They may lash out.
8. Show solidarity on your kids’ behalf
Sporting events, dance recitals, birthday parties, graduations – there will be times when you and your ex must both show up for the kids. No matter how awkward, your kids need to be able to see you speak to each other in friendly and casual ways.
9. Get help
If your kids are still struggling despite your best efforts, it may be time to get professional help. Find a good pediatric therapist or family counselor who can help guide your children or family through this difficult time. Your pediatrician may have the names of some professionals they trust.
Divorce isn’t just a legal process that affects you and your soon-to-be ex. It affects the entire family and can especially overwhelm the kids.
At Hello Divorce, we offer more than just a legal means to an end. We believe that there are ways to navigate divorce that put less emotional strain on a family so they can look forward to a stronger, happier future. We offer online divorce plans, services, and resources that can make the transition less stressful for everyone involved. Need help? Schedule a free 15-minute call.