Nobody gets married, has children with their spouse and expects to end up being divorced, but unfortunately, this is something that happens to about 50% of marriages. It can happen as a result of infidelity as described in Sonya’s article on Her Aspiration, or because of other reasons. This can be a really hard time for your family, and stressful for your kids who may not understand what is happening.
Here are some ways you can make a separation or divorce easier on your kids:
Talk About Their Feelings
Depending on what has been going on between you and your spouse, your kids may be picking up on it and getting concerned about what is happening. After you announce your separation, they may worry about how their lives are going to change and what is going to happen to their routines. It’s important to take the time to talk to your kids about how both parents will still be in their lives, will still love them unconditionally and even though you’re not together any longer, it doesn’t mean they did anything wrong.
This may also be a time where you see a change in behavior, this is a normal part of them processing the changes and it is a good opportunity to discuss feelings and emotions. Don’t be ashamed to seek out additional help from a counselor or social worker if you find your kids are having a very hard time with the news.
Discuss New Living Arrangements
Another key thing to reassure your kids about is their new living arrangements. You’re best to act quickly to come up with a schedule to help put their minds at ease. If possible avoid pulling your kids into a custody battle by working out arrangement quickly to ensure that they get to spend a good amount of time with both parents. If you’re in California, you can consider getting an uncontested divorce in California which will be quick and allow everyone to move on with their lives.
Avoid Bashing Your Spouse
Getting a divorce is not a great time in your life, and you may be feeling some ill-will towards your spouse. Children are impressionable, so you’re better off to refrain from talking badly about the other parent when in earshot of tiny ears. Them knowing the details of your divorce is not going to benefit anyone and they should not feel like they have to choose between the two of you. Allow your kids to have a good relationship with both parents, regardless of your feelings towards it.
Don’t Use Your Kids as a Pawn
You may not be feeling very loving towards your soon to be ex, but that does not mean the kids should be used as pawns to leverage the divorce settlement. Your divorce is not their fault, so keep them out of it. Also, communicate directly with your ex instead of asking your kids to relay information between the two of you. Down the line, the feelings you have now may soften, so it’s best to try to maintain clear communication and an open line of contact between the two of you.
Keep Them Safe
If your divorce is due to abuse or neglect, then it is possible that one parent may have reduced or no visitation. If this is the case, then making sure your kids feel safe after the trauma is your number one concern. This situation is likely going to require some outside help to get everyone back to feeling their best, so definitely get into counseling as soon as you’re in a safe place.
Lean on Your Friends
Now that you are a separated couple, you may find yourself needing some adults to talk about the tough stuff with. This is the time to lean on your friends and family. You also need this extended circle of people in your life to guide and nurture your kids in their new journey (and without your spouse, you may need some help with babysitting from time-to-time).
Getting divorced can be tough on everyone involved. Your whole life is being turned upside down, and every member of the family is directly impacted. Use this time to ensure you’re talking through the feelings that come with this big change in life. Make sure you iron out the custody arrangement early so that everyone can be informed about what is happening, and prepare for their new life.
Avoid talking badly about your ex in front of the kids as you want to ensure they can maintain a good relationship with both parents if you need to vent, find some friends or family you can talk to. Keep the communication with your ex open to avoid putting your kids in the middle, using them as pawns to relay information. Most of all, keep them safe, if there was abuse or neglect, seek some professional help in order to be able to move past this point in your lives. Divorce can be messy, but your kids don’t need to know about it.