When Divorce is on the Horizon – Helping Your Kids to Cope
Divorce is not an easy life transition for anyone to cope with but it can be particularly painful for the children who end up feeling like they are caught in the middle. As parents who are getting a divorce you play the most important role in how your kids cope with the changes that are about to take hold in their lives. Your minor children need all of the help and support that you can give them to get through this traumatic experience with as few issues as possible.
Be There for Your Child
As a parent getting ready to split from your spouse you are dealing with a lot but you must consider what your child is going through as well. You must make it a top priority to assist your child in making the transition from the kind of life your family shares right now to the way it will be after the divorce is final and your spouse and you no longer live under the same roof.
This sounds easier to do then it is in reality but what is most important is that you make yourself available whenever your child wants to talk with you about how he or she is feeling. Answer your child’s questions honestly and be understanding and supportive when he brings his/her concerns to you.
Break the News Together
It is a good idea to tell your children that you have decided to get a divorce together as opposed to each one of you telling them separately. Discuss with your soon-to-be ex-spouse beforehand how you plan to approach the topic and what you are going to say. Be as honest as you can be with your kids and be prepared for emotions that range from anger to sadness to confusion about the decision that the two of you have made. Tell your little ones as much as they need to know and that is it.
Allow your children to feel their emotions and be prepared to be the bad guy for a while until they start to come to term with the reality. Let the truth of what is taking place sink in before you bombard your kids with the details of what life will be like once mommy and daddy are living separate lives.
Some children think that they are responsible for the divorce so as parents you both need to assure them that that is not the case. Let your children get angry or cry and express themselves to you just as you have expressed yourselves to them. You are preparing to mourn the loss of your marriage and your children deserve the same as they mourn the loss of the family life they have been a part of and enjoyed up to this point in their lives.
Maintain the roles that you each play as parents. You continue to be the mother who does mom things and let the father continue to do dad things. Try as hard as you can to keep your children’s lives as normal as possible. While there will be changes to cope with in the weeks and months to come you must make every effort possible to maintain the status quo in your children’s lives and to keep everything on stable footing.
Dial Down the Conflict Factor
It would be nice if divorce was amicable but often it is not. As spouses who are calling it quits you must remember that you must continue to co-parent your children. For that reason you need to dial down the amount of conflict that your children see in front of them.
Argue as little in front of them as you possibly can. When you minimize the level of conflict this plays an important role in how well your kids are able to adjust to the changes that are swiftly taking place in their lives. It makes the adjustment easier for them which is exactly what you want. You want your children to be hurt as little as possible and this is how you help to make it so. When there is arguing to be done take it behind closed doors and keep it away from the ears of your little ones. Remember that your kids love you both so do not do anything to damage the bonds they have with either one of you.