6 Tips Every Parent Struggling with Divorce Should Address Early
Divorce, even when amicable, is difficult for everyone. It can be especially difficult for children. Have you worried about the impact your divorce may have on your kids? Let us discuss 6 tips you can start using today to help your child process your divorce.
1. Help kids manage their feelings. It can be important to sit down with your kids and encourage them to say what they are thinking and feeling, and to separate their feelings from your own. These conversations may not be about problem solving or trying to change how your kids are feeling. Instead, consider focusing on listening and thanking your children for their honesty. If you see your child struggling with a difficult emotion, consider trying to model healthy coping, including labeling your emotion, stating that it is okay to feel that way, and talking about how you will cope with your tough feelings. You may also want to set up opportunities to talk with your kids about how it is going on a regular basis for at least 2-3 years, the period that is most impactful for children.
2. Do not speak negatively about your ex around your kids. This one may be easier said than done, but research shows that the single biggest factor in long-term adjustment for kids of divorce is the level of parental conflict they see. It can put kids in a tough spot if they have to take sides or listen to negative things said about one of their parents. It can also be important to acknowledge real events such as one parent moving out of the family home. Consider acknowledging what has happened, and answer questions truthfully and honestly, but do not feel pressured to explain your ex’s behavior.
3. Try not to use kids as messengers, especially when you are not getting along. There may be plenty of other ways to send messages to your ex-partners, so consider not using your kids for this. Also, while it may be okay to ask about what your child did while with his or her other parent, try not to use your child to find out what is happening in the other household. Kids may resent it when they feel they are being asked to spy on the other parent. Whenever possible, try to communicate directly with the other parent, or with the third party, like your child’s school, sports, or other activities.
4. Plan for your kids to struggle with your new partner, your ex’s new partner, or their kids. New relationships, blended families, and remarriages can be among the hardest parts of the divorce process. Continue having regular conversations and allow for one-on-one time with each parent. Watch for signs of stress to help prevent problems from growing.
5. Seek community support. Support from friends, relatives, church or religious groups, and other community organizations can help parents and kids adjust to separation and divorce. Kids can meet others who have developed successful relationships with separated parents, and can discover that they are not the only kids who feel the way they feel. These groups can also provide support for parents, who will need help as they adjust to their new life.
6. Encourage your children to have a healthy, positive relationship with your ex. Try to make an effort to accommodate the visitation schedule and unforeseen changes. The best outcome may be for your children to have positive relationships with both of their parents.
For assistance navigating the divorce process and related legal issues, please feel free to reach out to our office to schedule a meeting time.