Divorce isn’t easy for parents or kids. A family is about to change foreve, and that can lead to tremendous feelings of loss and anxiety for everyone involved. Not that we all acknowledge that.
Given that the commonly accepted figure for the number of marriages that end in divorce is 50 percent, in some ways we’ve begun to normalize divorce. If half of the country is doing it, it isn’t that unusual, and so our kids should be able to deal with it, right?
Wrong. A divorce can still be highly traumatic for children, no matter how common it is these days. That’s why in all the fallout from the breakdown of a marriage, you should still make protecting your kids the number one priority through it all.
Here are some ways in which you can help.
Explain the divorce in the simplest terms
There’s no point trying to hide what is going on from your kids. They are clever enough to work out something isn’t right, and lying to them will just make the whole situation worse down the line. Tell them about your divorce and explain things in simple, straightforward terms to help them understand. “Mommy and Daddy fight all the time and it makes us all unhappy. We’ve decided it will be better for us to fight less and live in separate houses.” Try to make them understand the reasoning behind this most difficult of decisions.
Reassure your children that they are still loved
One of the most damaging aspects of a divorce, especially with younger kids, is that they blame themselves for it. This is as a result of childhood egocentrism, where children haven’t developed the full cognitive functions yet to see the world from another person’s perspective. As such, they’ll believe they are responsible for the divorce. You need to instill in them the fact that they aren’t, that mommy and daddy still both love them very much and that new arrangements with regards to custody will reflect that. Let them know they’ll still see both parents and as frequently as possible.
Back that up with support
Those sorts of promises need to be backed up with support. No matter how bad relations have become between you and your partner, you should be placing your kids’ happiness as your number one priority throughout the whole process. That will mean making tough decisions as to who lives where. You should never shy away from financial contributions either. Hiring a child support attorney Flint, MI from a law firm like Buckley Family Law can help with that process.
Talk about their feelings
Encourage your kids to talk about their feelings. If they feel sad, upset or angry, then they should know that they can talk to mommy and daddy about that and that they’ll have their concerns listened to and their worries understood. Divorce is an ongoing and adult process, and by treating your kids as grownups during it, you can help them to feel less isolated and more open to discussing what is going on with you.