How to Make Divorce Easier on Your Children
Divorce can be an incredibly difficult and confusing time for your children. It is therefore important to try and minimise the disruption that divorce can have on their lives, such as by reducing their emotional distress and helping them come to terms with the changes in the family. In this blog post, we will provide advice on how to make the process of separating from your partner easier for your children by discussing topics such as communication, stability, support networks, changes in finances and more. We hope you find this information helpful if faced with making one of life’s toughest decisions.
Communicating with Children
Communicating with children effectively can make it easier for your children to deal with the changes. Knowing how to talk to your children about divorce in an age-appropriate manner is key. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) offers helpful information for divorcing parents. Here are some tips on what to say, what to avoid saying and how to answer their questions:
- Be honest: Children are perceptive, and they’ll pick up on any inconsistencies in your explanation of what's happening. Be honest with them about why you are getting divorced. Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to share every detail with them. Age-appropriate honesty is key to establishing trust with your children. For instance, you can tell your children that you and your partner have decided to separate but reassure them that while things are going to change, they are very much loved by both parents who will always be there for them.
- Reassure your children that it’s not their fault: Children often feel like they are in some way responsible for their parents’ divorce. It’s important to remind them that it’s not their fault. Explain that sometimes, in life, things just don’t work out, but the children themselves are not to blame for this. Importantly, avoid exposing the children to witnessing any disputes or quarrels with your former partner.
- Don't disparage your ex-partner: Even if you feel angry or hurt by your partner, it’s important not to talk negatively about them to your children. Bad-mouthing your partner in front of your children can create negative feelings and tension that will impact them long after the divorce. It's essential to be respectful to show your children that communication and understanding can overcome difficulties. Tell your children that although you and your co-parent may not live together in the future, you will always be there to support them.
- Be available: Be available and receptive to your children's thoughts and feelings. The key part of communicating with your children is to listen. Sitting down with your children and listening to their worries, questions and concerns shows them that you care. Take the time to address their questions and reassure them that you and your partner will do what you can to work together to make things as comfortable as possible for everyone. Remind them that you are there and will do all you can to provide the comfort, care and support that they need.
- Seek professional guidance: If you’re struggling to communicate with your children, it may be helpful to seek professional counselling. Not only can therapists help children understand and manage their feelings, but it can also be instructive to get professional advice about how to approach talking with your children about divorce. Counselling sessions can also teach parents how to help their children cope and manage stressful situations and hence help the children to adapt to the new changes.
Understanding Children's Reactions
Separation can be a traumatic occurrence for children, and they may respond in many different ways depending on their age, disposition and other conditions. Common reactions include anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, guilt and confusion. It is important to validate their feelings, to listen to them and to provide emotional support throughout the process. Some children may find it difficult to adjust to the changes caused by the divorce and may need extra support from professionals such as therapists or school counsellors to help them cope.
Keep Conflicts Away
A highly disputed divorce involving a lot of argument, will not only affect the couple but also their children. It's important to keep conflicts as far away from children as possible and try to maintain a respectful and civil attitude while co-parenting. Children should not have to witness their parents arguing with each other. Parents need to make a conscious effort to restrain themselves and keep the stress away from their children.
Maintaining Routines and Stability
Divorce can disrupt children's routines and create confusion, which can be detrimental to their emotional health and academic performance. For this reason, maintaining stability and routine is crucial. Children thrive on consistency, so keeping their schedules consistent can provide them with a sense of security and predictability. Stick to regular routines for meals, bedtimes, schoolwork and other activities as much as possible. Also, try to maintain the same rules and boundaries as much as possible so that children know what to expect from their parents. This can help them feel more secure and grounded during the divorce process.
Co-parenting effectively after a divorce can also ease the transition for children. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) emphasises the need for open communication, shared decision-making and cooperation. Parents must put aside their differences to help them communicate effectively, whether in person, by email, or by phone. They should also try to work together to establish a parenting plan that works for both parties and adjust it as necessary. Flexibility is key, but so is consistency, so make sure that both parents are on the same page when it comes to rules, schedules and expectations. Let your children know that they can love both parents and that they have a meaningful relationship with each of them. Children should never feel like they are caught in the middle of a parental conflict. When conflicts arise, try to resolve them in a respectful and healthy manner, using mediation if necessary.
Support Your Children's Emotional Needs
Divorce can be a traumatic experience for children, and they need support to process their emotions. Encourage them to express their feelings, whether this be through art, writing, or talking to a trusted adult. Let them know that their emotions are valid and that they are not responsible for the divorce. Also, as said before, try to keep your own emotions in check and avoid speaking negatively about your former partner. Children are sensitive to conflict and negativity, and it can negatively impact their perception of both parents. Seek professional counselling for yourself or your children if necessary.
Contact Parfitt Cresswell Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you are looking for someone who will be understanding yet resolute regarding your family’s needs in a divorce, don’t hesitate—schedule a free consultation with Parfitt Cresswell today and get started on the road towards a resolution for your whole family.
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