Protect Children in Divorce
How is your divorce going to impact your children? It’s a question that keeps parents awake at night. Regardless of what stage of divorce you are in, the worry for the children is real. For many, it may have been one of the main reasons that the marriage lasted as long as it did. Every parent worries about what is best for their kids and when parents are in the midst of a divorce, it’s completely normal to worry about how to help them transition and protect them from the harmful side effects of divorce.
Helping your children transition through and after your divorce may feel like a constant struggle. When attempting to minimize the negative impact on your kids, there are some concrete methods of making the transition more positive for them.
Protect Children in Divorce | What You Should Do
First, attempt to avoid litigation with a friendly alternative. For many, mediation or using a collaborative approach will drastically decrease the level of contention surrounding the divorce proceedings and, therefore, will significantly reduce the degree of contention that your children are exposed to. It can also make the process faster, which helps decrease the time your kids spend exposed to uncertainty.
Second, do your best to insulate your kids from any divorce drama. The children are going to need to adjust to living in two separate households during this time. When they are spending time with you, focus on having fun together. Do the activities they love. Avoid dwelling on your divorce or picking at them for details about what they do when they’re with your ex. Avoid fighting in front of your children and never use them to send or receive messages from your ex. Don’t speak badly about your ex to your kids, as it will only put a massive amount of stress on them, which will decrease their ability to deal with the coming changes.
Third, consider the potential benefits of investing in a good therapist. Allowing your children to take advantage of consistent counseling sessions can make a big difference in their ability to process what’s happening and how they feel about it. It provides them with a neutral party to speak to openly. They will be more likely to deal with their grief, resentment or guilt in a healthy manner if they have this additional outlet. Seeing a therapist yourself can be very helpful as you attempt to deal with all the emotions that have to be faced as the divorce process evolves. Having a therapist to take along on your emotional roller coaster makes it much easier to avoid sharing too many of your negative feelings regarding your ex and your divorce with your children.
Fourth, take some time for yourself. Spoiling yourself is okay. You’re stressed out, and if you attempt to ignore it, you might find that it affects your ability to be a good parent. You are the support system for your children. You have to take care of yourself so that you can be there for them even though you are having a hard time. When the children are at your ex’s house, take a night out with the girls, go out to get a massage, or get a pedicure. Taking care of yourself will mean you have more energy and positivity when you’re around your children.
Lastly, tell your children that the divorce is not their fault. Tell them consistently and repeatedly. There’s nothing more important than making sure that they understand that they had nothing to do with the end of your marriage. The importance of making this clear to them cannot be overstated. Children will often have feelings of guilt about their parents’ divorce that they internalize; they only assume they’re the cause of all the changes occurring as the divorce progresses.
Children will often hide their feelings; particularly when they don’t understand them. Be vigilant in watching for signs that your kids are struggling with the divorce. Stay in touch with their teachers and others they spend time with to be aware of any changes to their behavior.