The 10 Most Important Ways to Help Your Children Survive Divorce

5678776_sIf you’re going through a divorce, you’ve no doubt experienced a range of emotions that are, at times, difficult to process. As an adult, you might have developed a set of tools, resources, and support to help you cope with your feelings. If you have children, however, you’ll need to keep in mind that they do not have the same set of tools, life experiences, or reasoning skills to process their emotions. This life-altering event will impact them significantly, and much differently than it will impact you.

I always stress that children need special care throughout a divorce, and while it may not be possible to completely eliminate the emotional effect of divorce on your children, there are some very important ways you can help them cope with their emotions to survive the divorce in a well-adjusted manner..

These are some of the most important ways you can help your children survive divorce:

1. If possible, tell your children about the divorce when both parents are present. Try to remain calm and avoid arguing in front of the children. Let them know that you are both available to them and are committed to being the best parents possible moving forward. Make sure your children know that the divorce is not their fault and reassure them of this fact often.

Explain to your children what will happen during the divorce and after. If custody is not yet established, give them as much information as you can to put them at ease and relieve the stress of the unknown future.

2. Do not disregard your children’s reactions or feelings. Children interpret the world, process information and express their feelings differently than adults do. The best thing for you to do is to allow your children to express their feelings and try to help them talk through their concerns, worries, and anger. Don’t rush them if they aren’t ready to talk, just be patient and supportive.

Get professional help if you are overcome with emotions or anger over the divorce. Just as your children’s emotions are valid, so, too, are yours. Having expert guidance can not only help you heal, but can help you maintain a stable and loving environment for your children.

3. Make your children feel at home. If you must move the children, try to keep as much stability and as many familiar items as possible so that they will feel secure in their new surroundings. Even if they only spend weekends with you, provide a space that is just theirs so that they will feel at home and settled.
Stay involved in your children’s school and extracurricular activities. If need be, create a schedule so that both spouses can remain involved and active in the children’s lives.

4. Monitor your children’s behavior and seek professional help if there are any troubling signs of depression, loss of interest in activities, declining academic performance, or lack of self-esteem.Do not discuss your financial situation in front of your children. Financial strain is stressful for adults, and relaying that stress to your children will only cause them undue worry.

5. Do not talk about your spouse negatively in front of your children. Remember, you are getting divorced, your children are not. Live in the present, not the past. Don’t rehash old arguments or allow negative thoughts to shape the outcome of your future or to impact your children’s lives or futures.

Do not coerce your children to take your side against your spouse or bring them into your argument. Along with creating issues between your children and your ex, doing so can actually have the potential to create friction and resentment between you and your children.

6. Do not behave in a vindictive manner towards your spouse or involve the police or child services in your lives unless truly necessary. These services are available when needed and should be treated as a serious and necessary step – they should never be taken lightly or simply out of anger.

7. Be consistent with your visitation. If you currently spend every weekend with your children, or if you attend every soccer game, continue to do so. If you can’t make it, let them know in advance and do what you can to make it up to them. Adults have a lot of responsibilities and time constraints pulling them in different directions, but these stresses should not impact your time with your children. These years are precious, and negative situations can cause lasting effects.

8. If you begin dating, do not introduce new relationships to your children immediately. Even if you’re getting serious about someone new, don’t expect your children to warm up right away. Explain the situation up front and allow your children to experience and express their emotions about this new person.Keep your in-laws involved. Do not cut ties with your ex’s family because of the divorce. It’s important for your children’s stability that they are able to continue relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of their family.

9. Keep your in-laws involved. Do not cut ties with your ex’s family because of the divorce. It’s important for your children’s stability that they are able to continue relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of their family.

10. Establish good communication with your ex. You don’t have to be best friends, but in order to ensure that your children’s needs are being met, and to parent to the best of your abilities, rational communication will be necessary. If you need to, seek professional counseling to help better your communication.Establish good communication with your ex. You don’t have to be best friends, but in order to ensure that your children’s needs are being met, and to parent to the best of your abilities, rational communication will be necessary. If you need to, seek professional counseling to help better your communication.

If you have questions or are looking for advice about your specific situation, please contact me directly at 248.855.5656 or dmoss@dmosslaw.com.