Divorce is unpleasant and stressful for everyone involved – but children may have it worst of all. They have little control over what the adults in their lives do. It’s frightening to be small and powerless when you really feel the need to be big and competent. So it’s important to do everything you can to protect them.
What can you do to make things easier for your kids?
Let them make decisions
There may not be many areas where it’s practical to let kids make their own decisions, but if you can find some instances where they can, it’s useful to give them a feeling that their opinions still matter. Just choosing what kind of pizza to have can be helpful in making a child feel less powerless. If your children have responsibilities, that also helps them feel they are still part of what’s going on. This may be a good time to give a child a small duty—the care of a goldfish or a terrarium, for instance.
Be good at making decisions yourself
Kids need to feel their parents are still in control, no matter what’s going on. It can be tough to not fall apart under the strains of a divorce, but it’s essential to children that their parents give the impression that they can handle it all. Children, especially young children, are prey to lots of fears during a divorce, and parents need to convey the idea that everything is going to come out alright and that the child is safe and secure.
Avoid fighting with your ex in front of the child
There are few things as damaging to a child as being exposed to constant arguments between his parents. A divorce is frightening enough for a child, but seeing his parents out of control really makes things seem dangerous. Keep in mind what the situation looks like from your child’s point of view when you’re tempted to yell at your ex.
Make sure your child gets to spend as much time as possible with both parents
You may be convinced that your ex is a dirty rotten scoundrel, but your child still wants to look up to her parent. Encourage the relationship between your child and your ex. Some parents are still not speaking to each other 20 years after the divorce, and the child has had to make special accommodations for her parents her entire life. Don’t put extra burdens on your child; let her enjoy the relationship with both of her parents.
If you’re facing divorce, we know how difficult the process can be, and we can help. Please contact us today to discuss your situation!