Going through a divorce isn’t easy, and it can be especially tough on kids. What can you do to help your child understand this experience and feel secure amid the turmoil? You’ll want to take time to think about what your child needs at this stage in their life, including how they’re feeling about the separation. Knowing how they’re reacting will help you determine where they might need additional support. Here are some tips for helping your child understand what a divorce really means:
Let Them Talk About It
One of the most important things you can do is to let your child talk about what’s going on. They understand that you’ve been in contact with a lawyer from a family law firm. They might not want to share everything, and that’s okay—they don’t need to bear the burden of carrying this alone. Just make sure they know that you’re there to listen when they’re ready to talk. This can be an excellent way for them to work through their feelings and start to come to terms with what’s happening.
Don’t Blame Yourself or Each Other
It’s easy to start feeling guilty during a divorce, but it’s important not to blame yourself or your spouse. This isn’t about you and can’t be taken personally. The separation is happening because your relationship has become broken. Don’t take responsibility for what’s happened by blaming yourself or making excuses for why things didn’t work out. You set an excellent example for your child by taking ownership and keeping them from feeling responsible.
Keep Things as Normal as Possible
You want to maintain consistency in your kids’ lives during this time, including not letting their daily routine be disrupted. This should include continuing with activities they normally do, such as school, sports, playdates, etc. They should have something familiar to hold onto while everything else changes or is adjusted. Establishing this normalcy early on gives your child a sense of control and stability that they may be feeling like they’re losing in other areas of their life.
Don’t Hide Your Emotions
It’s normal to feel a range of emotions during and after a divorce, but it’s important not to bottle them up. Kids need to see that adults can handle difficult situations and emotions without crumbling. Let your child see it if you’re feeling sad, stressed, or angry. This will help them learn how to deal with their own feelings in a healthy way. Just make sure you don’t communicate these negative emotions in a harmful or damaging way to your children, such as through name-calling or insults.
Seek Professional Help If Necessary
If you feel like you and your child need additional support, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. This could include talking to a therapist or counselor who can help you both navigate these waters. It’s often helpful for kids to speak with someone outside of the situation who isn’t biased and can offer unbiased support.
Educate Yourself on the Process
It’s important to keep yourself informed about what’s going on throughout the divorce process. This will help you talk with your child and answer their questions accurately, as well as be able to work towards a positive future for your family. Knowing how everything works can make it easier for your child to understand and may even help them feel better prepared for any new changes that might happen. By explaining things clearly and staying open with your kids during this time, you’re showing them that they don’t have anything to worry about—even if they still do.
Give Them Space If They Need It
There will be times when your children need space, especially if they’re feeling by everything around them. Don’t be afraid to give them room if they’re feeling overwhelmed. This may include giving them time alone in their bedroom, taking a break from activities that require a lot of attention or focus, or simply not prying into every detail of their day.
Continue to Set Boundaries as Necessary
As your child’s parent and caregiver, it’s important to continue setting appropriate boundaries, especially during this transition, even if they aren’t living with you anymore. Your limits may be different from what they’ve been used to at home and might seem stricter than before, but it will help keep your kids off-balance and vulnerable once the divorce is final. If they think things are changing now, wait until then!
Don’t Give Empty Promises
While you want your child to know that they can count on you during this time, make sure you don’t give them empty promises. You’ll only end up disappointing them if things do change or shift in the future. It’s important to set a positive example by following through with what you say and doing what you can whenever possible.
Establish New Traditions as Necessary
If your kids are used to certain traditions at home, it might be helpful for them to continue these after the divorce is final so that they have something familiar once again. This doesn’t have to mean duplicating every holiday or special event—just those that give them comfort during this challenging transition period.
Divorce is never easy, but you can help your child through it with some thought and effort. Just remember to stay patient and supportive and let your child lead the way in terms of how much they want to talk about what’s going on. With time, they’ll start to come to terms with the new reality in their life.