Going through a divorce is painful enough when you’re an adult. It’s even more so for any children involved in the process. Any child experiencing the breakup of their family unit is going to react in a different way. For some, there will be the initial denial, disbelief, protest and panic. As time passes and they become more resigned to what is happening, you might see different behaviors. There might be sadness and depression, anger, anxiety, guilt and shame. You’ll be pleased to learn there are some things you can do to make the process much easier and improve the way your child reacts to what’s happening.
When it comes to telling your children about your divorce make sure you do it together. Try to let them know what’s happening as soon as possible. Don’t be tempted to leave things until the last minute. You need to give them time to come to terms with what’s about to happen. They might have lots of questions they need to ask, so be prepared with some answers.
They’re Not Your Emotional Crutch
Your child is going to have enough problems dealing with their own emotions without having to prop you up as well. There’s nothing wrong with drawing strength from their love. Support, however, is something completely different and you’ve got lots of other people to go to when you need that. Friends, family, even professional guidance is available when you’re struggling with your emotions.
It’s OK to be Sad
Don’t feel the need to put on your happy face all the time. It’s OK for everyone to feel sad about what’s happening. It’s important these kinds of emotions aren’t swept under the carpet.
Routine and Structure are Important
To help your child cope with the change in circumstances, it’s good if there is a set routine, rules, and expectations to follow, whichever parent they might be staying with. It’s also important not to cancel or change plans at the last minute.
Don’t Make Them Choose
Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you’d feel if you were being forced to choose between your own parents. It’s important they know and understand that you’re happy they get to do things and spend time with both of you, and they should never be afraid or embarrassed to talk about what they’ve done.
Ask for Help if You Need It
Divorce is not something you have to go through alone. You’re going to be feeling a range of emotions, and at times you might not know which way to turn. There are some excellent resources to help you get through the difficult times such as family counselling, school counselors, support groups, professional advisors and child law solicitors.
Nobody ever said divorce is easy. It’s hard on everyone concerned, but especially for your children. Above all, make sure they know you both still love them very much and do everything you can to create a stable and calm environment. As they become more familiar with the new routine, so they’ll become calmer and more relaxed.