Children should not have to experience the pain and shock of divorce, but it happens every day. Children feel what their parents feel: confused, shocked, angry, and uncertain.
If you’re facing divorce, you have to consider EVERYONE involved. Honesty, communication, and expressed love are key to helping your child deal with your divorce. You have to be able to answer their questions as well, without making them part of the divorce or using them against the other parent. Trying to “protect” your child from your divorce by trying to keep them as far away from the situation as possible is futile. Children may have less life experience, but they’re smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. Just take their age into consideration when deciding how much information to share with them. Older children may need more information, while a younger child may respond better to a simpler approach.
What your child wants from mom and dad during a divorce:
● I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please call me, email, text, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
● Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
● I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. Please support me and the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
● Please communicate directly with each other so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth between you.
● When talking about my other parent, please say only kind things, or don’t say anything at all. When you say mean, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side.
● Please remember that I want both of you in my life. I count on my mom and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problems.
Source: University of Missouri
It takes patience, reassurance, and kindness to make sure your child is coping with your divorce in the best way possible. You should never accuse or place blame on the other parent, or make your child feel like it’s their fault. Ask them plenty of questions to help them process their thoughts and feelings. Let them know it’s not an overnight process and may take time for things to have a sense of normalcy again. Even if you and your spouse aren’t getting along, you have to find common ground in your children. You have to be able to provide solidarity for your child. Routines and set schedules in the midst of a chaotic divorce can help a child feel secure.
NO MATTER WHAT — DO NOT WEAPONIZE YOUR CHILDREN. Do not tell them that it is the other parent’s fault, even if it is. Do not alienate your children from the other parent. Remember, judges HATE it when they hear that a child is being told things like, “mommy doesn’t love daddy anymore” or “your daddy has a new girlfriend.” While you should have open and honest conversations with your children, there is a fine line between discussing divorce and “editorializing” about the other parent.
Remember that there are always professional options when it comes to your children and divorce. Counselors and therapy may be helpful, as your child can have an objective third-party to help guide them through their reactions to your divorce.
We all know divorce is not easy, but it can be less burdensome if you have the right tools. Remember everyone involved, not just you and your spouse. Approach divorce in a smart and healthy manner. That’s where we come in.
We at Abbott Law Office want to work for you. Uncontested divorce starts at just $299 plus court costs. We want you to exhaust every option in order to save your marriage, but if divorce is inevitable, we want to be there to help make yours as painless as possible. Call us at 350- HOPE (4673) for a free video consult.