Helping Kids Cope with Divorce
Although every marriage starts as a union of two hearts in love, over the course of time, situations and relationships can change, and a divorce may be in the cards. No divorce is easy on those involved, but in all too many cases, it is the children who are most affected. Kids often don’t understand how or why a divorce must occur, but they do feel the pain of having their family torn apart. Parents can reduce the amount of misunderstanding and fear kids associate with a divorce if they will take some time to talk to their children and explain the situation clearly and truthfully.
Children don’t always understand the reasons their parents are splitting up but they can always sense tension in a relationship and may even blame themselves for the discord within the family. The best approach is to tell the truth and depending on the ages of the children, tell them exactly why you are getting a divorce. Babies and toddlers will not understand their parents divorce, but grade school age kids and teens will expect some answers. How you handle your divorce can have a significant impact on the way your children will view the institution of marriage in their own lives. You don’t want to make them hate marriage and you will have to point out that it can be a wonderful thing but that it does not always work out perfectly for everyone. Don’t focus on the negative and be sure to point out the many examples of happily married couples in their lives.
Parents caught up in the doings and details of a divorce often forget to address their children’s fears and one of their biggest fears is the loss of the love from both parents. It is important to take some time to tell the kids that they are still loved now and reassure them they will still be loved after the divorce too. You will have to honestly explain the changes the divorce will bring but also emphasize that life will go on. If a change of home is planned, both parents will need to make sure they can spend time with the children frequently enough that the kids don’t feel abandoned after the split takes place. The kids need to see each parent often enough that they don’t feel a loss of happiness and love in those critical relationships.
It is always a bad idea to undermine your ex-spouse or speak badly about them in front of the kids. Speaking negatively your ex-partner does not make your children love you more and when both parents speak ill of each other it can make the children more confused and depressed. The old adage of not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice goes a long way when dealing with kids and divorce.
Try to move forward and move on in your life after a divorce and you should let your kids move on too. Try to keep things as normal as possible and try to maintain a peaceful relationship with your ex. Your kids will be happier if you can smile about facing your new life and it can help them accept the divorce as an unfortunate, but necessary change of circumstance. You will still be their parent after the divorce and you will still bear the responsibility of providing the best environment possible for your children to grow up in.