One of the trickiest aspects of divorce is knowing how to handle the topic with your children. You and your partner have a lot of emotions to process, but so do your little ones; children will likely need a lot of support while going through all of these massive changes.
Here’s some insight from experts on divorce and children with tips on getting them through:
Start Talking – Understand Their Position
Once you know the divorce is over and there is no chance of reconciling, you need to tell your children. The first thing you should tell them is that divorce is a permanent decision — one that is not going to change. With all the changes your children have been going through, they need some reassurance that this is going to be permanent.
One of the biggest effects of divorce on children is constant worrying. The big changes that come with divorce mean a lot of uncertainty. Children may be anxious about needing to move house, change schools, find new friends and even chose between parents. Children internalise a lot of these worries and may chose not to talk about them with you. Therefore, it’s up to you to keep communication open. Ask questions about how they’re feeling, reassure them, and make sure they know exactly what will happen to them throughout the process.
Other Tips For Helping Children Move Forward
- Avoid Extremes
Regarding divorce and children, it can be tough to keep things in perspective during such an emotional time, but parents should avoid extremes. They should refer to the divorce as a sad event, but not devastating. They should invite children to express their thoughts and feelings about the divorce and show understanding of the children’ experience. Most importantly, parents should avoid blaming the other parent for the divorce or badmouthing the other parent.
- Don’t Use Any Legal Terms
While talking to your children, avoid using legal terms which might scare them.‘Visitation’ for instance implies that time with one parent will only ever be fleeting and temporary and very precious. Children should think of both parents’ houses as their home, or one house will end up being the entertaining house, while the other becomes the responsible house. Keep the balance in check from the beginning.
- Contain the Conflict
Children have a right to love both their parents, so don’t bring them into the middle of your adult argument. Avoid speaking negatively about the other parent while they’re there.
- Give Children Two Homes, Not Just One
For younger children, a great way to structure your children’s lives in both homes is to create colour-coded calendars so that they know where they are going to be and what they are going to be doing in both homes. Create as much normality and structure, in both homes, to give your children predictability in their everyday lives.
- Love Your Children!
Children might be worried that because you stopped loving each other, you might just as easily stop loving them. Worse even, they might think that the divorce is somehow their fault. It’s therefore important for you to openly and often express that one thing will never change: your love for them is eternal. Ultimately, don’t let your children the price for your failed marriage. Love your children more than you resent your ex.