The process of divorce is difficult for everyone, but perhaps nobody in the family is as affected by the transition as your children. Children are innocent bystanders in divorce and are at risk for lifelong consequences if the transition is rocky. Luckily, in most cases, when you treat your children well during the divorce process, it helps them cope and makes it easier to accept their changing family. Treating your children well during the divorce process:
- Ensures they understand they are not at fault
- Protects them from emotional damage
- Strengthens your relationship with them
- Helps them understand the transitions happening in the family
There are several things you can do to treat your children well throughout and following your divorce. For instance:
Do your best to insulate your children from potential emotional damage. In some cases this means protecting your child from the harm your spouse could cause, but for most, it means promoting a healthy relationship between your child and his or her other parent, even if you are unhappy with your spouse. Children should not be asked to take sides and they should not feel as if either parent is the enemy. This can be tough when you are angry and resentful, but in the long-run, rising above your emotions for the sake of your child is beneficial.
Best honest, but spare the dirty details of the divorce. There is no reason why children need to know every detail of what happens during the divorce process. They also do not benefit from hearing about the mistakes either parent has made. It is also important to let other family members know what you have shared with your child. For instance, if your spouse had an affair and you have decided it is not appropriate to share this information with your children, make sure other family members are aware of this decision.
Finally, take time to provide your children the comfort and reassurance they need. All children are different, so you will need to act according to your child’s personality. Changes in a family can be frightening for children of all ages, so make an effort to monitor your child, stay on top of issues at school or daycare, and spend quality time alone with your child. Encourage questions and provide answers that are age appropriate.
It is possible to help your child through this difficult transition, but it takes effort. Treating your child well during the divorce process makes it easier for your child to accept the situation and understand that family support is ongoing, regardless of the relationship between parents.