Any parent who goes through a divorce worries about how their divorce will affect their children. After all, you love your children more than anything, and you are worried about their emotional well being. Many parents wonder if their divorce will affect their children psychologically or educationally. The answer is yes, a divorce can affect your children, but there are things that you and your ex can do to help your children adapt to their new circumstances.
It won’t be easy, remember you are dealing with your own feelings, too. So it might be hard for you emotionally to deal with your children’s feelings, as well. You can and need to expect a lot of tears, anger, and confusion, but with endless amounts of love from both parents, everything will be okay in the end.
Love, love, and more love
Giving and showing your children tons of love can really do wonders. Tell your children that you love them more than anything. Let them know that the divorce was not their fault. Many children, especially younger kids, tend to think that their parents’ breakups are because of them. It’s important to reassure your children that both you and your spouse love them. During a divorce, children can become insecure. Little kids might worry about who will take care of them and where will they stay. They might also feel sad because they might worry about how daddy will read them a bedtime story if he isn’t there at night. That’s why it’s important to let little ones know that you and your ex will always be there for them.
You could tell them that “mommy and daddy won’t be living together anymore but we still love you.” You could explain what will stay the same and what will change. You don’t have to explain all the in-depth details of your divorce, but it’s good to tell your children how things will be in a loving, kind and understanding way. Listen closely to how they feel and ask what you can do to make the divorce easier. Hugs, cuddles and spending quality time together is also a good way to show your children you love them.
Older teenagers might react differently to little ones. It will be easier for teens to understand why you might be getting a divorce, but they still need love, and for you as parents to listen to them and value their feelings. Your teen might start to act out by becoming argumentative, or even depressed. Their grades could also begin to slip. This is when you as a parent need to show understanding. If you notice that your teen is really struggling, and harboring a lot of hurt feelings, seeing a psychologist is a great idea. You could even go to sessions together. This will help your teenager vent and express their emotions. The psychologist will also help our teens deal with their feelings in a healthy way.
Keep routines as much as possible
It’s very important to keep a child’s routine stabilized. If your child goes to bed at 20:00, make sure to keep their bedtime the same. Routines make children feel safe. When they know what to expect it will help them to have less anxiety. If you can try to keep your children in the same schools, close to friends and family. Abrupt changes in routine could affect children adversely. Try to agree on the same rules for your kids at your ex’s house too. This will help your kids to realize that even though mom and dad aren’t together anymore, your home situations are still similar.
Break the news gently to your children
As completecase.com says, don’t tell your kids on Sunday evening that you and your ex are about to get a divorce. This would mean that they have school the next day, and you can imagine how hard it would be to face going to school after such hard news. Rather tell your kids about your divorce on a Friday. This gives them the weekend to experience their emotions and ask you the questions that they need. It’s also important to be together as parents when you speak to your children about your divorce.
Choose a day when your children are relaxed. Talk calmly to your children and reassure them that you and your spouse love them and that will never change. Your child could react in many different ways. They could become angry, or start to cry, they could also not react at all. Whatever your child does, listen to them and try to understand how they are feeling.
Listen to your children
Sometimes it might be hard to hear what our kids have to say about us. Especially when they are in pain. But listening to your children and validating how they feel will help them. Ask them why they feel a certain way, and reassure them that you are there for them.
Be clear about what will happen next
Let your children know which parent they will be staying with. The more they know about their new living arrangements the easier it will be. You can also tell your children when and how often they will see your spouse. You can also tell them that they can call or text your spouse however much they want. Many parents still call their kids every night to say goodnight. This also lets children feel like the other parent is still part of their life.
Don’t argue in front of your children
Fighting in front of your kids is not the way to do things. Fighting in front of your children can be scary for them, especially little ones. Keep arguments to when your children are not around. You can even email or text each other if you have any disputes. Fighting causes anxiety and stress in children. A child who might already feel anxious about their parents’ divorce doesn’t need the added stress. This article shows how parents fighting affects children’s mental health.
Don’t make your children feel guilty
Some parents try to manipulate their children by crying to them the entire time, or by telling their kids how bad their ex was. Remember you are the adult. You need to be there for your child and not the other way around. When your child leaves to visit your ex, don’t make them feel bad for going. Give them a quick hug goodbye and say something like “I’m sure you are going to have a good time.” Try to be positive and, if your kid had a great day, be happy for them!
Get a new pet
Nothing can bring more joy to a child’s life than a new pet. Make sure that you are ready for this commitment, though. Puppies and kittens are cute but they are a lot of work. Studies have shown that owning a pet decreases stress levels.
Divorce is always tough. Even if you’re getting away from a really bad situation, kids can still struggle to adjust. You need to remember to always be patient and always show your children tons of love.