Divorce is exhausting and confusing. You might feel like you can barely manage your own stress. But there is someone who is even more affected by the divorce than you or your spouse: your child! Experts agree unanimously that children are the ones most affected by divorce. Many parents want to help their children but don’t know how. Helping kids process divorce isn’t simple, and one thing is for sure: your questions on how to move forward are very valid!
Tip #1: Talk to Your Kids Sooner Rather than Later
KidsHealth recommends talking to your kids about your decision to live apart as soon as you make your plans. Although there’s no easy way to break the news, have both parents present for this conversation if possible. It’s important to try to leave feelings of anger, guilt, or blame out of it. Practice ahead of time how you’re going to tell your kids so you don’t become upset or angry during the talk. The discussion should fit the child’s age, maturity, and temperament. If you have younger kids, Psychology Today suggests starting the conversation with something like “ “Mommy and Daddy fight all the time and it makes us all unhappy. We’ve decided it would be better for all of us if we live in separate houses.”
Tip #2: Don’t Forget the Most Important Message!
No matter the ages of your children, experts unanimously agree that the most important message you can get across is that the children didn’t cause the divorce. Unfortunately, most kids will feel they’re to blame even after parents have said that they’re not. This feeling of blame can result in severe anxiety and other emotional problems for children. Even after explaining it the first time, keep reassuring children of all ages that they are in no way at fault for your divorce.
Tip #3: Support Your Kids Throughout the Entire Divorce Process
Contributors to KidsHealth and Psychology Today recommend these essential tips:
Keep visible conflict, heated discussions, and legal talk away from the kids.
Minimize the disruptions to kids’ daily routines.
Confine negativity and blame to private therapy sessions or conversations with friends outside the home.
Keep each parent involved in the kids’ lives.
Be prepared to answer questions that kids might ask about what is changing in their normal routine or future plans. Kids will probably ask when they will be able to see each of their parents and where each parent will live. Be prepared to answer these questions as truthfully as possible, and be honest when you don’t have the answer.
Encourage honesty and ask kids how they are feeling and what they think about the process. Be a good listener and let them know that their feelings are valid.
Offer support by asking your kids what would help them feel better or safer.
Keep yourself healthy. Get counseling and outside help so that you can better support your kids during this process and manage your stress in a healthy way.
Be civil with your ex, especially in front of your kids. Don’t resort to blaming or name-calling while your kids are around.
Divorcing in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area? Whether you’re just starting the process or you’re in the middle of a complex legal issue, Miller, Hampton & Hilgendorf has your back! Call 225-343-2205 or contact us online today!
Miller, Hampton & Hilgendorf
3960 Government St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806