Divorce is extremely stressful and can take a toll on you as an individual, but more importantly, it can take a toll on your children. During l this challenging time, so many questions may be running through your head about your children and how they will fare. Here are some steps to take during a divorce to ensure your children are your top priority.
- Be Honest.
Children can usually sense when something is off; share the news that you will be splitting with your spouse in a proper way. Avoid sharing inappropriate details about why the decision has come up. Instead, take a more therapeutic approach that does not involve bashing or playing the blame game. Many children may feel like they have caused the split, so it’s important to stress that they are not the cause. Divorce is earthshaking news for any child, so timing is critical. Make sure that you are mindful of other events that your child might have (such as a big test or important sports event). More on how to tell the children about the divorce.
- Offer Support.
While every child takes the news differently, some may take it way harder than others. Helping your child put their feelings into words can help them get through the hard times with more ease. Make sure your child knows that getting professional help is okay, talking to a therapist may help get an unbiased opinion and advice. Legitimize their feelings by saying things such as, “I know how sad you feel,” or “I know you are having a hard time without your dad here.” That way your children know it’s okay to feel sad and upset about the change.
- Be Consistent.
Establishing a consistent routine can go a long way in your child’s life. The first few months after and during a divorce may feel like complete upheaval, with visits to mom or dad in new locations. Any consistency you can offer will help. Try to avoid unpredictable schedules and disturbances. Schedule one-on-one time with each parent, though this involves the effort of both partners. Communication about parenting will be critical to prevent situations such as, “Mom said this is okay, why can’t I do it at your house?” and “I like dad’s house better; he lets me stay up late and eat ice cream!”
Taking small precautions can help your child remain the top priority as you and your partner separate. If you have questions for our therapist, visit our divorce workshop on the second Saturday of each month.