Helping Your Children Cope With Divorce
While divorce may be a challenging situation for any spouse to go for, when there are children involved, the divorce is going to be that much harder when watching parents separate. It is almost impossible for children to initially understand that their happy family is coming to an end; to come to grips that their parents don’t love each other anymore is a lot to handle. Understanding how difficult it is for children to hear that their parents are separating for good places a huge responsibility on the parents to be there even more so for the kids during this time.
It is very likely that your children will feel as though it is their fault that your divorce is because of something that they did or didn’t do. Reassure them that your decision to divorce had nothing to do with the children, and comfort them with how much they are still loved no matter what. Children may have the idea in their head that they can try to prevent your divorce if they act better and do more chores, etc. tell them as well that they can do nothing to prevent the divorce either. It doesn’t matter if your divorce is in Pennsylvania or anywhere else in the country – people go through the same emotions no matter what the location is.
On TV we see many divorces that are contentious, and one spouse is trying to fight and prove the other parent as unfit to care for their child. In reality, many parents that divorce both equally care for their children so it is important to tell your kids that you want them to maintain a good relationship with both even though you are separating. This will not only comfort them, but it will also keep them from feeling the stress of having to choose sides or pick favorites. Divorces are overwhelming for children as it, has to pick sides can just add too much stress to the already difficult situation.
Another helpful hint is that no matter how much bitterness and anger you hold towards your ex; don’t share those feelings when you are in front of the kids. Also try to remain civil if and when you are using a family divorce mediator – so you can have the best outcome possible. This is what friends, family members and therapists are for; spare your children the gory details about your divorce. With that said, it is also important to be honest about your divorce with the children as well, don’t make up stories or avoid it, just be honest and share that you two for whatever reason have decided the divorce is what is best. Some situations may not call for full disclosure to the kids; use your own discretion for what they can handle.
Communication is key for any family; make sure your children know they can be honest with their struggles and confusions about the divorce. Let them share their feelings and be honest with you as they work through the details in their own minds. It may take time, but allowing them to share their frustrations and questions about the future may help them down the road. Consider having you and your ex sit down with the kids and walk through what they can expect for the future after the divorce. This can include the living situations, if moving or a new school will be involved, etc. By telling them what to expect in advance may give them time to process and prepare.
Don’t try keeping life the same as it was when you were married when interacting with the kids, perhaps start a new tradition or hobby together something that they create a memory around that won’t have them missing their other parent participating. Lastly, spend time as a parent to help yourself heal after the divorce as well. It is easy to only focus on the children during the hard time of divorcing your spouse, but remember you can’t save your kids if you are lifeless. Consider joining a yoga group to help release your stress or talk with a professional about your hardships, find new hobbies and ways to spend your time, especially when the kids aren’t around.
Exercise is highly encouraged for many reasons, it not only produces endorphins that help you feel better, but also exercise can make you feel more confident and comfortable with your body even though you are single. Life after divorce may be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible, give it time and you will heal and move on, and so will your children. Helping the kids cope with their parents’ divorce is essential, and will greatly affect them even years down the road. Remember that you are not the only one in the world who is going through this challenging situation, your friends and family are there to help you too. If you are considering filing for a divorce, contact the Law Offices of Colgan & Associates today for more information!