Divorce isn’t only hard for the parents. Children also suffer the backlash of their parents separating.
This is why it’s important to fully support your children as they go through such an emotionally stressful period.
Here are several ways you can take care of your children during divorce.
Let them know that they are loved
When parents break up, kids sometimes assume that they are somehow at fault. They internalize that they need to be more fun or better behaved, and have better grades to make their parents want to spend time with them.
This affects the kids’ self-esteem, and may also affect other areas of their development such as their school. This is why it’s important for you to reassure them that their parents’ lack of commitment, or the break between you and your ex, has no impact on their lovability.
You need to continually remind them that regardless of the divorce, they are loved and deserving of love.
You need to remind them that even if their parents somehow make mistakes, miss appointments, or fight, they will be loved and will continue to be loved.
Parents have the tendency to sugarcoat things when it comes to communicating with kids. We understand that this stems from a protective streak and that at times lying or making up a story is more merciful than telling them the truth.
However, this makes it difficult for your child to express their feelings. We recommend that you tell them honestly what’s going on in a way that they will understand.
If possible, them together and explain what will change, how you will be handling the situation, how they can help, and how none of this means they’re at all to blame.
Be honest about the situation with your ex as well. If they won’t come through or keep cancelling, do not criticize them but don’t cover up for them either.
Let your children know the situation so they can vent and feel what they need to feel.
Help them express their feelings
Speaking of feelings, it’s also important that you allow your kids to express their feelings on the matter.
Don’t brush off their anger and disappointment with statements like “It’s better this way” and “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
Saying these things will make your children feel that you can’t deal with their unhappiness. At worst, this sends the message that they shouldn’t be feeling that way.
Whether they’re upset or disappointed about the divorce or something else, they are entitled to these feelings and should be able to talk about them. Your children don’t need to worry about worrying that you will be upset or angry.
You should offer them support and comfort and let them know that you understand them and that their feelings are valid. This will help them confront their negative emotions instead of avoiding them and letting them fester.
If they aren’t able to voice their concerns, you can suggest that they write them down using a letter or an email. You can also encourage them to use other forms of expression such as art or music if words aren’t enough.
Be supportive of their time with their other parent
You may not have the best relationship with your ex, but they remain co-parents of your kids and will remain a huge part of their lives. As long as they’re being responsible with your kids, you should allow them to enjoy their time with each other.
As much as possible, do not let them hear you or anyone else saying negative things about their parents. Hearing so much negativity may make your child feel that they need to take sides, which can cause internal conflict.
Keep their routines intact
A divorce is already going to disrupt the daily lives of your children, so it’s important to keep as much of their routines intact. This will help them establish consistency and structure.
Making sure their daily routines are followed will give them a sense of stability while everything else is changing around them. We advise you not to be too lenient on them when it comes to breaking rules and being lax with their chores or responsibilities.
Many parents allow their guilt to let them coddle their children, but even if the situation is hard, allowing them to get away with trouble can have detrimental results down the line.
Do not fight in front of them
While no one expects you to be the best of friends with your ex, maintaining a peaceful and amicable relationship with them is important for the well-being of your kids. If fights and arguments are inevitable, make sure you do this somewhere out of sight or earshot of your children.
Talks about mortgages or finances and the general issues you have with your ex need to happen when your children aren’t around. The best way to do this is to set up a meeting when your kids are in school or with the babysitter, talk over the phone when your kids are asleep, or through your lawyers.
Co-parenting when you’re in different locations may be difficult, but you owe it to your children to allow them time with their parents. Consistency is important, but you also need to think about being flexible about visitation schedules so your kids can get the support they need.
Consider changing dates of visit or alternating your arrangements in the event that one parent doesn’t come through. If some dates are continually missed, you can set up a different arrangement for a different day of the week to make up for it.
Communicating with your former spouse as peacefully as you can may help you navigate life after divorce much easier.
If your child is overwhelmed, you may want to consider seeking professional help. Allowing them to see a psychologist help them with their issues doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a parent.
There’s no shame in admitting you may need a little help, and it will serve as a lesson for your children to know that they have people they can reach out to if they can’t handle their emotions.
A mental health professional can also help your children establish a framework for healing.
Take care of yourself
As important as it is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your children, you can’t do anything on this list if you’re not well yourself.
Keep in mind that you are their primary provider and will be relying on you for the foreseeable future. If you’re not healthy and happy, it will affect them negatively.
If you’re not doing well emotionally, you can also consider seeking the help of a counsellor. For other things, you can ask your friends and family for help.
You need to establish a support system so you don’t feel overwhelmed. This way, you can be strong enough to provide what your children need.
Divorce is difficult, not just for parents but also for their children. Making sure your children are adjusting well to the changes in their lives is an important part of your responsibility.
We hope this article has helped you figure out some steps to keep your children healthy and happy through this transition. If you need more support, you can check out these places for the best psychotherapy in Edmonton.