How to Minimize the Impact of Divorce on Children
When you and your spouse decide it is time to end your marriage, you have to figure out when and how to tell your kids. It is hard to imagine a more difficult conversation. Then, once you have told your children, you must navigate the tumultuous waters of separating your life from your spouses, all while minimizing the impact of these changes on them. There are so many factors to think about, it is smart to discuss with your spouse exactly how you plan to handle your separation, future disagreements, and your children’s questions.
To minimize the impact of divorce on your children, you and your spouse should consider:
Limiting How Much You Tell Your Kids
Your children have to know about the divorce and how things are going to change at home. However, they do not need all of the details about why the divorce came about and how the legal process works. You should carefully consider how much you tell your children based on their age and maturity. A teenager may be more interested in the “why” behind the divorce while young children will focus on how these changes affect them. Tell your kids what they need to know and then focus on reassuring them of how much you both love them and will work to not change their lives too drastically.
Not Fighting in Front of the Kids
Disagreements are a part of life and every parent is going to have an argument in front of their kids once in a while. However, if you and your spouse are having fights that include shouting, swearing, and name calling, then these need to be held in private. It is one thing to show your children that loving parents sometimes disagree, it is another to create a hostile environment at home.
Never Bad Mouthing the Other Parent
It is understandable to have negative feelings toward your spouse during a divorce, particularly if you feel he or she is to blame for the current situation. However, you have to remember that these are your feelings based on your relationship with that individual and they do not reflect your children’s feelings or relationship with their other parent. To avoid damaging your children’s relationship with their mom or dad, never bad mouth the other parent in front of them. This can ultimately reflect badly on you during the divorce and custody discussions.
Reassuring Your Children They Are Not to Blame
Divorce can be particularly hard on children who believe they did something wrong and somehow caused the divorce. The reasoning might not make sense to adults, but kids will often think that if they did more chores or got better grades in school, things would be different. It is important to address these common thoughts right away. Reassure your children they are not a problem and did not cause the divorce.
Altering Their Routines as Little as Possible
In some cases divorce can be traumatic on children because their routines may suddenly and drastically change. Instead, it may be best to avoid big changes and gradually adjust your children’s schedules. This may mean that the parent who intends to move out of the family home starts to spend more time away instead of simply leaving one day. If your children will be splitting time between two homes, this too can be slowly implemented.
Avoiding Introducing a New Partner Too Soon
Children need time to come to terms with the end of the parent’s marriage, and they may not have moved on even if you have. If you start dating or find yourself in a new committed relationship, think long and hard before introducing this person to your children. Bringing new people into their lives too soon can make this transition even harder.
Seeking the Assistance of a Counselor
Each case is different and every child may react differently. If the help and guidance of a therapist may assist with the transition consider having your child or children start counseling.
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