No matter how amicable your divorce, there is no question that it will have some sort of effect on your children. They will undoubtedly experience sadness, anger, and worry — many of the same emotions you are experiencing as well.
If your divorce is contentious, the strife between parents will only make it more difficult for your children to cope. Their emotions may manifest in more destructive ways as they mirror the rage and anger of their parents.
However, there are ways to help your children cope with your divorce that will minimize the emotional upheaval; here are some tips on helping your child through a divorce:
Be prepared. When you break the news to your children, it is best if both parents are present and on the same page. Your children will be most concerned about what will happen to them — where they will live, if they will continue to go to the same school, if they will still have the same friends, etc. Be prepared with answers to their questions and reassure them that while you are divorcing each other, neither one of you is divorcing your children.
Validate their feelings. Some kids will express their feelings right away, and some will react later. Many will also try to make parents feel better or harbor the belief that if they are good, their parents may not divorce. Make sure your children know that the emotions they are feeling are valid. Your job is to make them feel safe in expressing all their feelings, both bad and good.
Provide support. Ask your children what would make them feel better. They may say they don’t know, so suggest some ideas — doing a favorite activity together, spending time with friends, or having more contact with the parent who has moved out. They may even welcome the impartial input of an experienced family counselor to help them with the transition. Let them know you will do whatever they need (within reason) to help them cope.
Take the high road. High-conflict divorces are really hard on your kids. No matter what the circumstances are, you must stop yourself from letting your anger spill over into your children’s lives. If you need to vent, do so to a therapist, family or friends — always out of earshot of your children. Don’t post nasty things on social media about your ex where your kids may see it.
Get help for yourself. By getting help to deal with your own feelings, you set a good example for your children on how to take a healthy approach to dealing with major life changes. Do NOT rely on your children for support. Older children may try to make you feel better by being there as a shoulder to cry on, but you should avoid putting this heavy burden on them. Your children are likely to emulate your behavior in dealing with a divorce — if you are a raging mess, they will be, too.
By handling cases with the dignity and respect they deserve, we have helped many families in New Jersey civilly resolve their divorce, rebuild a satisfying life, and confidently step into the next chapter of their lives. Contact us today for your free consultation.