Children may too often become collateral damage in divorce. Even when parents keep things civil, the aftermath of a fractured home may prove difficult for children to process.
There are steps you can take even before the divorce to aid in the way your children view and get through the process. The children’s ages will affect their ability to process and perhaps even express their feelings about it. Remain proactive and take action to help your kids get through a divorce successfully.
Tell them before it starts
When you and your spouse make the final decision to end your marriage, you need to formulate a plan together to tell your children. Do not wait to do it. Kids may feel blindsided if the announcement and the actual separation happen too close together.
Prepare for emotional and behavioral changes
The kids may have a mild reaction to the news. Depending on their ages, this is quite normal. They, too, need to process. However, unlike adults, they may not express their emotions the same. Look out for behavioral changes. A child who is usually docile may become belligerent. One who is outgoing may withdraw. Preparing yourself for these changes helps in knowing how to deal with them.
Allow them to ask questions
Children will have natural concerns about what life will look like. Encourage them to ask questions whenever they arise. Nothing helps kids with change more than two parents who encourage honesty and support. Some common questions include:
- Who will they live with?
- Will they change schools?
- Will they see the other parent?
- Where will the dog live?
Divorce causes strain, even in the best-case scenario. Focusing on your children’s needs before, during and after may help dampen some of the stress.