Divorce is one of life’s most stressful events for adults, but it can also become a serious source of stress for children. As a parent, you have more control than you realize to support your children through this process and keep stress to a minimum.
Whether you are considering divorce or you’re in the midst of the process, these are some tips you can use to help support your children.
Agree in Advance
Even though you’re going through a divorce, try to remain united on how to support your children with your spouse. Make an agreement to tell the children why you are divorcing and both tell the same story. The idea is to eliminate confusion as much as possible while staying consistent.
Once you and your spouse come to an agreement, tell the children while you are all in the same room if possible. This allows you to address questions at the same time and know exactly what was said during the conversation.
Explain it Simply
One of the first strategies you can use for younger children is to explain the divorce as simply as possible. Many children experience anxiety and loss through divorce, and they might not understand what is causing this situation to happen. An easy way to explain divorce to a young child is that mommy and daddy fight a lot and are unhappy, and it is better for all of us if we live in separate houses.
This is not the time to go into a lot of detail or drama surrounding the divorce. Keep the explanation as simple as possible.
How much information to give your child about divorce:
Think carefully about how much information you’re going to tell your children about the divorce. These are a few guidelines to consider:
Age-appropriate: Younger children do better with less information and simple explanations. Older children may need more details.
Don’t overwhelm: This is especially true for younger children. However, share logistical information about school, living arrangements, and activities.
Be truthful: Above all else, make sure what you tell your child about the situation is true.
Tell Them About Changes
Addressing changes is important so your children know what to anticipate. While living in separate houses is one change, they need to understand how often they see each parent. The timetable depends on custody, so you can let your children know if they will see only one parent on the weekend and the other during the week.
This is also a time that you can tell your children if another parent is moving to another state, where the children may see the parent much less frequently than before.
Emphasize That it isn’t Their Fault
It’s not uncommon for children to think that they are the cause of the divorce. It is more important now than ever for them to know that they are not the cause of your divorce. If you need to, explain the reason for the divorce again and ask if they understand that they are not at fault.
Children May Grieve Through Divorce
It’s normal for children to feel a tremendous sense of loss during divorce. In fact, they may even enter a grieving process much like when an adult grieves after a death. Grief comes in 5 stages:
Your children may not necessarily go through each stage. However, as they go through the grieving process, it’s important to:
Listen carefully to their needs and concerns. Stand as their support system and help guide them through their feelings.
Provide stability. Try to keep daily routines the same as much as you can. This doesn’t mean you have to provide a rigid schedule, but it’s helpful for children to have some sense of structure through the process.
Routines bring comfort. Remember that routine and stability helps children feel safe.
Remember to take care of yourself through the divorce process as well. Eat healthy foods and exercise often. Seek support for yourself when you need it.
Get Your Free Consultation from a Divorce Attorney
With 15 years of experience working clients through the divorce process, Attorney Swanson is your trusted guide. Contact us for a free consultation for questions and advice.