It is no secret that divorces are difficult, not just for those going through it, but also for other family members, especially children. In order to make the process easier on your child, it is a good idea to take steps to make your child feel like they can express their true feelings and reassure your child every step of the way.
Children cope with divorce in different ways, some may feel anxious, others may benefit from joining a support group, some may be happier that their parents are getting divorced. Whatever the case is, encouraging your child to talk and spend time with both their mom and dad can help them through this emotional transition.
Psychology Today shares the following strategies for helping your kids adjust to a divorce:
- 1. Explain the divorce in a simple, straightforward way. When possible, both parents should talk over how to explain the situation and have the discussion with the children jointly. They can explain, for example, “Mommy and Daddy fight all the time and it makes us all unhappy. We’ve decided it would be better for all of us if we live in separate houses.”
- 2. Reassure your children that they will always have both parents’ love and explain how things will work. For instance, “You will spend every other weekend and Thursday nights with Daddy. The rest of the time you will be with Mommy.” For young kids, you can play out the new arrangement with dolls or stuffed animals. Putting up a calendar also helps the kids feel more reassured that they will have time with both of their parents.
- 3. Talk about the emotions that kids naturally feel under these circumstances. You might explain, “It is normal to feel sad and angry about a divorce. These feelings are hard to deal with alone. When you feel angry or sad tell Mommy or me. You can say, ‘I feel sad,’ or ‘I need to talk,’ and ‘we’ll help you.’” Encourage your kids to have an on-going dialogue with you and demonstrate that you accept any feeling they have. Sometimes kids keep their feelings inside because they do not want to upset you. Check in with your kids frequently by asking, “How are you feeling about the divorce?”
- 4. Reassure your kids that the divorce is not their fault. Kids tend to be “egocentric” and believe that their behavior or thoughts cause bad events. They need to know that the adults have made this decision based on their relationship and it has nothing to do with them.
- 5. Avoid talking badly about the other parent or blaming the individual, even if you are angry. Children love and need both of their parents. They can easily experience a loyalty conflict and feel badly and this will deter an open dialogue. Children need to feel both of their parents are valuable because each child is a composite of their two parents.
- 6. Give your children ample advance notice before a parent moves out. It works really well if the children are able to visit the second home and know where they will sleep when they visit. It is wonderful to involve the children in helping to furnish the apartment and bring over some of their possessions.
- 7. It can be very helpful if you work with a parenting expert, or a family therapist who has experience with divorce and can give you guidance on how to handle tough situations that arise. Children also gain a great deal from talking to a therapist on their own. They often are freer to express feelings that they think will hurt their parents.
- 8. Be aware that when a family is going through a divorce, children can act up, withdraw or regress. It’s not uncommon for children to wet their bed, or refuse to listen. They will need extra time, support, and open communication. Over time these symptoms will dissipate as they adapt to the changes. Planning some favored family events will give the kids the feeling that life will go on as usual.
If you are considering divorce, reach out to our law firm today. We can help you prepare yourself for the changes that come with divorce and get you started filing the necessary paperwork to make your divorce official.
Experienced Family Law Attorney in Houston, TX
At Renken Law Firm, we work with our clients to help them navigate the divorce process. We understand how complicated and emotionally draining this experience can be, this is why we work with you every step of the way. Contact our law office to explore your options for traditional marriage divorce and common law divorce, and find out how we can help you resolve any legal problems you are currently facing.
Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
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