Divorce creates uncertainty in the lives of the children of divorcing parents. It’s not uncommon for children to blame themselves for the problems that occurred in the marriage. They may think that if only they had been a little better or more fun, the marriage would have survived. Because of this and other factors, their self-esteem may plummet during the divorce process. Here are 6 tips for helping your children survive emotionally during your divorce.
Provide an honest, age appropriate, explanation of the divorce
Start by providing your children with an honest explanation as to why you are getting divorced. If possible, have both parents present when explaining the divorce to the children. It is important to get to the point during your explanation and not beat around the bush. When you are finished, tell your kids that you both love them and that you both will continue to care for them. Let them know that they are loved by both parents.
Explain in detail what will happen when you separate
Be prepared to provide detailed explanations on where they will live, who will take them to school, how they will celebrate birthday parties and how the divorce will affect their other activities. Let the children know they are loved and that they will be taken care of no matter what.
Listen to your children
Frequently ask your children about the feelings they are experiencing surrounding the divorce and let them know that it’s ok to have feelings of sadness or anger.
Seek to understand
Children are very good observers. However, they are not always the best interpreters of what they are observing. Ask your child what he or she understands about the divorce and encourage them to express their feelings. Be as emotionally honest as possible when sharing your thoughts as to why the divorce is occurring. This will help them to create a set of healthy beliefs about the divorce that will carry forward into adulthood.
Do not attack or blame your ex-spouse
It is extremely difficult for children to hear bad things being said about one of their parents. This is especially true if the person saying the bad thing is another parent. It is very important that both parents avoid attacking each other.
Consider mediation for your divorce
For couples with children, mediation is about sparing kids the hostility that is bred by the adversarial process of traditional litigation. With a trained Cincinnati divorce mediator facilitating discussions and pointing out possible solutions you will be able to structure your divorce in way that is better suited to protecting your children.