Divorce is never easy, particularly when children are involved. While parents may experience some relief following the end of a marriage, we must remember that after divorces, kids usually deal with feelings of loss, sadness and confusion. Fortunately, with time and a little help from mom and dad, things can and will improve.
Parents can help their kids through the early days by keeping the following suggestions in mind:
Allow negative emotions.
You may find it easier to paste a smile on your face on the hard days, but do not expect your kids to do the same. Allow them to tell you in a respectful way when they are angry, sad, or confused. They should feel comfortable asking you questions and getting honest answers. This is all part of the coping process and will you bring you closer in the end.
Play nice with your ex.
If it is too soon to have a good laugh together, at least be civil when it comes to your ex. If you have a complaint, take it straight to him or her and never make your kids the middlemen. Remember that even if you have fallen out of love with your ex-spouse, your kids will always love both of their parents.
Keep routines as similar as possible.
If you can, keep your kids’ normal schedule in place during the divorce transition. Keep them in the same schools, same sports, and even keep things like bedtimes in mind. There is so much changing in their lives, so provide some stability by keeping their routines as even as they were pre-divorce.
Show up together.
You likely have a custody arrangement for spending solo time with your kids, but look for opportunities for that time to overlap. When possible, both of you should be at important events at the same time so that your kids still enjoy the benefit of two involved parents.
Find a family counselor or therapist to help you and your kids get through this new phase in your lives. Schedule time to meet individually and as a group. Even if you have never sought professional help in this capacity before, take advantage of having a professional guide you to the next phase of your family life.
Remember to avoid feeling guilty about our divorce. Instead of looking back, focus on your family’s future. Put your kids first and you will all come out on the other side with your emotions in tact—and closer than ever.