Divorce is more difficult when there are children involved. And the children are often the ones who suffer the most. They have no say in the matter, but they are the ones that have to make the biggest adjustments. If you are facing a divorce and want to make sure your children are well-equipped to handle the adjustment, consider the following tips.
Be prepared for questions
When you first break the news to your children, be prepared for plenty of questions. It can be a confusing time, so it’s okay to not have all of the answers straight away, but don’t brush off questions. Children will want to know if they are going to spend time with both parents, if they will have to change schools and if their existing plans will remain unchanged. Offer some reassurance and make sure the lines of communication are left open.
Get into a routine as quickly as possible
Once you have adopted your new custody agreement, it’s important to establish a routine. Children will feel more anxious if their day-to-day life is disrupted. While you might be dealing with lots of things behind the scenes, try to keep things like after school clubs and weekend commitments the same. If you have already planned a holiday, it’s fine for this to go ahead with just one parent. Just make sure you check the rules regarding taking children abroad on holiday. How you split school holidays should also be agreed in your custody arrangement so that there is no confusion.
Never bad mouth your ex in front of them
Even young children are receptive to negativity. While going through a divorce will no doubt lead to plenty of name-calling and finger-pointing, your children mustn’t see this side. Older children will quickly see through attempts to turn them against the other parent and could end up resenting their parents as a result. No matter the reason for the divorce, remember that your children have a different relationship with your ex. They shouldn’t be expected to take sides in the divorce.
Let them know it’s okay to talk
It can be difficult to talk to children about divorce. After you have fielded the initial questions, you might let them know they are still loved very much by both parents. And then you assume all the questions are finished with. This is why it can be disarming when your child asks a question about the divorce at an unexpected time. Sometimes they will see something on TV or hear something from a friend that leaves them with a burning question. They need to know that they can ask questions at any time without upsetting anyone. If it does visibly upset you to talk about the divorce, you could ask a close family friend or even your parents to talk to your children.
Keep yourself healthy
Self-care is an important part of the divorce process. You can’t care for others if you aren’t caring for yourself. Make the time to exercise, get enough sleep and address any mental health problems you might be facing. Divorce can lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and bad habits. By identifying your bad habits early on, you can take steps to combat them. This might mean taking up meditation or yoga to help calm your mind. You could take up running to manage stress and help you sleep at night.
Don’t let the rules slip
There is often a temptation to paint yourself as the “fun” parent, but this can quickly backfire. Children need structure and ground rules to be able to flourish. You can’t control the rules in the other parent’s home, but you can control the rules in your own home. Make sure you make this clear and don’t let things like bedtime be decided by the child. A parent who says yes to everything will soon have to deal with the consequences, so don’t be afraid to say no.
Older children might try to manipulate you by pointing out how the other parent does things, but they will eventually grow out of this behaviour. Remember that divorce is difficult for your children too. They will need time to adjust and things might not feel normal for a while, but you will get there eventually.
Newly middle-aged wife of 1, Mom of 3, Grandma of 2. A professional blogger who has lived in 3 places since losing her home to a house fire in October 2018 with her husband. Becky appreciates being self-employed which has allowed her to work from 'anywhere'. Life is better when you can laugh. As you can tell by her Facebook page where she keeps the humor memes going daily. Becky looks forward to the upcoming new year. It will be fun to see what 2020 holds.