One of the most important questions parents most often ask when divorcing is how will the divorce affect my children? Where will they live? Who will make decisions for them? And what should they do or not do to reduce the potential negative impacts of the divorce on the children’s lives.
While child custody decisions often require extensive thought and negotiation, divorcing couples can begin the transition process early by discussing their pending divorce with their children and listening to their children’s concerns. Here are a few tips that psychologists and leading divorce experts often recommend to parents facing divorce:
- Talk to your children appropriately – Young children may not understand what divorce is; be clear about establishing a routine and assure them that some things will not change. Keeping familiar items around is vital for youngsters. School-age children may feel angry or upset about the divorce and should be able to feel free to discuss these emotions in a safe place. Parents should ensure teens are not part of the conflict and should not have to take on any responsibilities regarding the divorce.
- Reassure your children – Don’t assume that your children know that the divorce is not their fault – many children may have feelings of guilt. Telling them repeatedly that both parents love them and both will continue to be in their lives will help to comfort children moving forward.
- Avoid conflict in front of children – Divorce, even if amicable, is stressful enough on children. Arguing or discussing the legal aspects of the divorce in front of children is harmful for the whole family. Even more so is disparaging the other parent in front of the children. Find appropriate outlets for your emotions away from the children and other family members who need not hear your frustrations to avoid more problems in the future.
Fortunately for parents, there is plenty of expert advice available if you are having difficulty discussing your divorce with your children. Attorneys, mediators, therapists, parenting coaches and religious advisors can all help discuss the best way to approach your children regarding divorce.
While divorce can be difficult and stressful, it does not mean the end of the family, it is rather the beginning of a new family structure. If you are contemplating divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer who can help to ensure you and your children are cared for as best as possible.