It’s not a situation that anyone wants to be in and it’s definitely not one we want to put our kids through. However, “keeping it together for the family” is a flawed approach that can lead to a more traumatic view of relationships and marriage, so if the signs are there that you and your spouse should divorce, it’s not a good excuse to use. But, how do you help your kids through it?
Explain what is happening to the family
You can’t avoid the elephant in the room for too long. Explaining divorce to children is a very daunting task for any parent to do. However, big aspects of their lives are about to change, and letting them be in the dark about it can cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety, creating a chaotic home-life situation that can affect them in all fields of their life. Today’s Parent looks at how you can talk to kids about divorce from age group to age group, making sure you keep the conversation appropriate and illuminating where possible.
Don’t get them involved
It can be tempting to bad mouth your soon-to-be-ex to your kids, to use them as messengers, or to otherwise have them play a more “active” role in the divorce. However, this is borderline abuse. Children do not have the ability to regulate their emotions as well as adults do, and the end of a marriage can be a very emotional time even for the most composed adults. For that reason, make sure that if you catch yourself involving the kids, you recognize it, apologize to them, and explain what you did wrong.
Let the lawyers deal with the divorce itself
You might think “surely we can talk through this like adults” when it comes to handling the procedure itself. However, even well-meaning individuals can get caught up in their emotions and that can be damaging for any co-parenting relationship after that. Work with the professionals like the Spodek Law Group instead of trying to go it alone. Even if you do manage to keep things smooth between you and a spouse, you might look to mediation instead of court divorce.
Get them help if they need it
You might not like to think that you’ve caused your child enough distress that they might need professional help with it. However, the truth is that it is likely for divorces to hit children pretty hard. It’s not true in every case, but you shouldn’t make the assumption that it’s not true in yours. You should consider finding a child counselor for them to talk to about their feelings and to make sure that they’re able to cope with the new reality of their family life.
Simply put, the best way to help kids through a divorce is to keep them out of it, but ensure that they know what is going on. Custody is a whole other matter that will depend on the fitness of each parent to be a parent.