Divorce is a traumatic experience for all parties involved, but the effects of divorce can leave a lasting impression on your children if you’re not careful.
With over 40% of first marriages ending in divorce in the United States alone, this undoubtedly involves one, if not two, children in this traumatic life event.
It’s a confusing, stressful, and uncertain time for all family members, but with the right support your family can come out stronger at the end of it all.
Learn how to help your family deal with divorce in this blog…
A Simple Guide on How to Help Your Family Deal With Divorce
First thing’s first, it’s important to accept that your children and other family members will also experience heartbreak during your divorce.
Yes, it’s a difficult time for both you and your former partner, but children tend to feel it the most, without even realizing it.
At any stage throughout your divorce, your children may feel angry, resentful, shocked, scared, and uncertain. Believe it or not, many children feel they are to blame for a divorce, too.
Bear in mind that these feelings are 100% normal and validated. But without enough support, these feelings can leave an emotional scar that’s difficult to overcome in later in life.
Here’s how to support your children through this life upheaval…
1. How to Talk About Your Divorce
Divorce lawyers, Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C., recommend preparing what you’re going to say to your children before you sit down and break the news.
If you don’t, you’re likely to freeze up in the moment, be caught off-guard and perhaps say something you don’t mean. Preparation will help make the conversation easier for you and your children.
If you can, prepare for tough questions. Try and anticipate the types of questions your child may ask. Deal with your own anxiety beforehand, this way it won’t be translated through your body language or how you communicate.
2. Carefully Consider the Amount if Information You Share
This is especially important at the very beginning of a separation or divorce. Pick and choose what’s really important and easy to understand for your children.
Remember these key points when deciding on what type of information to share:
- Be aware of their age- younger children need far less detail, while older children require a little more
- Speak about logistics – let them know how living arrangements will change, but avoid overwhelming them with information
- Remember to keep it real – always tell your kids the truth, no matter how difficult it may seem
At the end of the day, children are far more perceptive than many adults give them credit for. Let them know you are an open book and always there to answer their questions.
3. Avoid Telling ”Half-Truths”
Even if it’s painful, you should always tell your children the full truth about your divorce and why your marriage is ending. However, there’s no need to include details they will not understand.
Pick a phrase that’s simple, honest and truthful about your failed relationship and stick with it i.e. don’t change the reasoning from one parent to another.
Remind your children that sometimes adults ”fall out of love” or just ”can’t get along any longer”, but this doesn’t apply to adults and their children!
4. Reassure Them With Your Love
Don’t forget the power these three simple words: ”I love you”.
Reminding your children that they are acknowledged and loved unconditionally can do wonders for their mental state. Reassure them that nothing will change in how you take care of them, you will always be there for them.
5. Avoid the Blame Game
Being honest with your children can be a challenge without being critical of your spouse, especially if you have strong feelings of resentment.
But, diplomacy is extremely important in this situation, especially around your children. Remember these key pointers when having family conversations with your children:
- Always present a united front- agree on what you’re going to say in advance and stick to it
- Plan out your family chats, especially before major life changes such as living arrangements and daily routines
- Always show restraint – try to be respectful of one another when speaking out your divorce or each other
It may be easier said than done, but remember that restraint is all the more important the older your children are, too.
How to Provide Stability Throughout Your Divorce
While learning to adjust to change is good, especially from a young age, too much once can be completely damaging for your child.
Help your children adjust to the life changes that divorce brings with the structure, support, and familiarity that they are used to.
Establishing stability during your divorce doesn’t mean sticking to a rigid schedule or the exact same routine, either. It simply involves small changes over time, applied with consistency.
Communicating with your children as much as possible will also provide a sense of reassurance and calm in both households.
1. Remember the Comfort of Routine and Discipline
As with most people, even adults, we tend to feel the most comfortable when we know what to expect from a certain environment or situation. This is especially relevant to your children when going through a divorce.
Sticking to a similar routine that they know is how to create this sense of comfort and security. If they know that dinnertime is followed by a bath, homework, and then bed, this routine should be the same in both households.
Keeping up with a regular routine also means observing the same rules, chores, discipline and reward system. None of this should change, only the setting in which it’s applied i.e. two different households.
2. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Finally, one of the best things you can do for your children during your divorce is to practice self-care. Make sure you are looking after both your physical and mental state so that you can provide the best possible care and support to them!
Learn More About Managing Your Family Life
Now that you know a little more about helping your family deal with divorce, learn how to manage other aspects of divorce and family life with Actwitty.
Check out this blog on how to be the best possible dad when it comes to part-time custody of your children…