Divorce can be so hard for children that physicians usually include parental divorce in their list of adverse childhood events that can affect psychological and physical development. Some loving parents will stay in an unhappy, toxic relationship for years just because they worry about what divorce might mean for their kids.
You don’t have to sacrifice your own happiness for the protection of your children. The three following tips can help you shield them from the worst parts of the process.
Approach the process as a family unit
Presenting a united front as co-parents is crucial. Ideally, you and your spouse can sit down with the kids together to explain the divorce and what will occur. Telling your kids that it is not their fault and explaining what shared custody will look like will make things easier. You can also discuss how family rules will not change and that the same curfew and technology rules will apply at both houses.
Remember that your kids are children — not your therapist
Kids don’t benefit from knowing every detail of their parents’ lives and intimate relationships. What they need is to know that they can depend on you.
Your children don’t need to hear all of the reasons you are mad at your ex, witness the two of you fighting or serve as your therapeutic support when you feel down. Make sure that you are there for your kids and that you have support for yourself so that you don’t end up leaning on them.
Aim to keep the conflict level as low as possible
The less you and your co-parent fight, the easier this transition will be for everyone in your family. An uncontested divorce filing can be the path of least resistance for many divorcing couples. Divorce mediation can be a crucial tool for those who don’t yet agree on custody terms or how to split their property but who know they want to avoid divorce litigation.
Keeping the focus on your kids and on the future can make it easier for you and your spouse to navigate the difficult process of ending your marriage while you share children.