It’s hard to go through a divorce, and it’s always the children who suffer the most. It becomes worse when parents neglect their kids because they are so overwhelmed with the divorce process. Parents need to understand that they have to know when they’re neglecting their children. This can at least minimize the pain of the divorce for their kids.
Divorce, however, is widespread in the US. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that 40-50% of married couples divorce. Because of this, people often think it’s not affecting kids today. This is false.
Seeing parents separate is difficult and confusing for children to watch, especially daily. Being surrounded by conflict causes them great distress. And because of this, they start to fear that they will lose their relationship with their parents.
Transitions can be stressful for kids, too. New caregivers, new school, new house — all cause anxiety and uncertainty.
For parents, it’s important to manage these aspects to prevent stress from causing further irreparable damage to their children. It’s a win-win. Parents can rest assured that what they’re going through is manageable in an emotional sense. At the same time, the kids are more tolerable of the situation.
In this article, you’ll learn a few tips to help you make divorce easier for your children and prevent them from being stressed in the process.
Continue to Practice Good Parenting
If you were good at parenting your children before the divorce, continue what you were doing. Keep up with it. Yes, it’s difficult to maintain good parenting practices when you’re overwhelmed with emotions. It’s important to carry on with it even if you’re busy with court dates and grieving the loss of a relationship.
The key to accomplishing this is to keep your issues separate from your children. Don’t talk about child support in front of the kids. As much as possible, keep conflict at bay in front of the children. According to the APA, ongoing conflicts between parents increase the risk of social and psychological problems in children.
Foster a Good Balance of Communication and Cooperation
Children can cope better in a divorce when they maintain close contact with both parents. Good parent-child relationships allow children to be resilient, especially when there is a problem in the family. If you used to have a great relationship with your son or daughter, continue to do the same even if you’re no longer living under the same roof.
In some cases, transitions, especially sudden ones, can be difficult for kids. Before you make any changes to your family arrangements, tell your children in advance. Give them a few weeks to adjust to the thought of their parents’ divorce. Even after the divorce, try to limit the changes you and your spouse will create.
For your children to maintain close contact with you and your spouse and for them to take changes easily, foster good communication habits. Keep your lines open. You and your spouse should be able to tell your children together about the divorce and all the changes it will bring. Create a plan for how to do this. Cooperate. Honest conversations can benefit your child’s reaction to what you will have to say.
Keep Transitions Civil and Peaceful
If you or your spouse has already moved to a different house, chances are, your children will come to stay, depending on your custody arrangements. During the switch from one parent to another, make sure that you keep the event civil.
For little children, help ease the separation by keeping a goodbye routine. Maintain peaceful interaction with your spouse. Children will feel scared and will isolate themselves upon seeing tension and intense argument between their parents. In fact, according to Tamara Afifi, professor of interpersonal health communication at the University of California, conflict between parents creates dissonance and anxiety in young children.
Avoid Blaming the Children
Children of different ages understand divorce differently. For many, especially the little ones, divorce is their fault. They only see from their perspective, so it’s no wonder they think this way. Little children will look at divorce in a way that makes sense to them. They end up concluding that their parents are separating because of something they did.
In any case, let the children know that the divorce wasn’t their fault. It’s best to reassure them that this is not the case. Make them feel loved and secure, both in action and words. Validate their thoughts, and although you have to correct them, do it reassuringly. At this moment, you are their only support.
You Are Still Their Parents
If you can do all this, your kid has a better chance of coming out of the divorce as a whole person. This is in contrast to children who feel incomplete because of a bad divorce between their parents. For now, the most important thing you can do is help your kids through the process by keeping conflicts away from them, maintaining their daily routine amid transitions, being a good and caring parent, and avoiding the blame game on them.