Once you begin the process of your divorce, it is likely that the well-being of your children will be the most important thing on your mind. Though you may have concerns about your finances, property division and living situation, you can bet that the emotions of your children will be a constant concern for you. Even though the children may have times of confusion and even hurt, this does not have to be a devastating time for them. You can help your children cope through this time by following a few of the following suggestions.
Keep showing them love
It is easy during a divorce to let the pressure of what you are going through overtake your life. Just spending time with your children may not be enough. Your children will probably notice a change in the parental dynamic and start to feel a lack of self-esteem. This will be an important time to stress your commitment to them and that they are cared for and loved.
Don’t hide what is going on
You may feel a need to protect the children from a hurtful situation and constantly project an “everything is fine” mantra. Even if the divorce is amicable between you and your spouse, it does not mean this disruption in the children’s lives should be ignored. Moving the kids from one home to another every week without discussion can be confusing to them. Explain what you can and let them speak their feelings openly.
Let the children communicate
Sometimes adults can feel that divorce is a grown-up thing the children do not need to be bothered with. While most children will adapt and be just fine in the long run, keeping them in the dark and not allowing them to speak of the situation may cause deeper emotional issues that can take longer to heal.
Do not fight in front of the children
Research has shown that children of divorce who are exposed to fighting parents have the toughest time adjusting. It is understandable that emotions will run high and frustration levels can easily go right through the roof. During arguments, you can routinely belittle and put down your spouse, things the children should not be hearing in the heat of a battle. You should also keep angry feelings at bay during pick-ups and drop-offs when it may feel like your one chance to get your opinions expressed.
Make transitions a happy time
Dropping off your kids can be a sad time, but you should not show it. No matter how you may feel, keep a smile on your face and show you are happy they are with the other parent. You do not want the children to feel guilty about leaving you or feel unhappy that you are sad they are away from you. Another good rule to follow is not to bad mouth the other parent when the children are with you, this can also make drop-offs awkward and confusing for the children.
Divorce can have its challenges and its share of frustrations. By taking a little extra time to be aware of how your children are dealing with these emotions can make a significant difference in their adjustment to their new normal.