Separation & your children:
You & your spouse have decided to divorce. Although you know this decision is for the best, you’re concerned about how it will affect the well-being & mental health of your kids.
If you’re struggling with your divorce, you can only imagine how your children are feeling. Hopefully these parenting tips will help you fathom what your kids are going through & how you can help.
What are my kids going through during our divorce?
For children, their parents’ separation is a time of high stress. So far their existence has relied on their married parents to keep their world a safe, loving & secure place. Now, they’re going to have divorced parents. What does this mean for them?
It means they will likely feel confused & worried about their future. They may feel somehow responsible for your break-up. For instance, they may worry that if you & your spouse have stopped loving each other, you might also stop loving them.
With united co-parenting, you & your ex can reassure your kids through love & support during this difficult time.
Tips to help kids through divorce
1. Tell your why your are separating kids honestly & appropriately
One of the hardest things you’ll have to do is tell your kids about your plans to divorce. Frame the news & conversation in a way the children will understand. Listen carefully & closely, & answer their questions in age-appropriate ways.
Remember to provide ample reassurance that your divorce was not caused by them in any way. It’s important to remind them that their Mum & Dad love them & always will. Try to hold space for them & maintain control of your own emotions as they will have enough of their own.
2. Communicate what is happening before it happens
Changes will be coming fast & furious at your children. Their living arrangements may change, as you or your soon-to-be ex may be moving out. This means they may need to change schools or start living in two homes. Therefore in age-appropriate conversation, let the kids know what to expect, listen & encourage them to ask questions & process the information.
3. Keep conflicts in between you & you ex in check
To protect your kids well-being it’s really important to keep emotions in check in front of your kids, no matter how you & your ex feel about one another. Negative feelings & conversation should not happen in front of your children. It’s essential you don’t say anything negative about your ex to your kids.
4. Model cooperative co-parenting
Your children need to have healthy relationships with both Mum & Dad. This is possible as when it comes to the kids, your primary role is a co-parent, & your co-parenting should be cooperative & respectful.
You need to be supportive & encouraging of the time that they spend with your ex. Don’t draw them into adult conflicts & don’t ask them to relay information between the two of you.
5. Keep your kids daily routines consistent as possible
Life is changing all around your kids. Of course some changes will be unavoidable, but try to keep your kids’ daily routines as consistent as possible. This will provide them with feelings of peace & stability.
6. Schedule special one-on-one time
Your children will need lots of love & reassurance right now. Plan extra time into your weekly, fortnightly or monthly routine to spend quality time with them without distraction. It’s a good idea to consider planning fun activities that help make them feel listened to, cared for & less vulnerable. Activities or games can be half an hour or more to connect & provide support.
7. Encourage them to express their feelings about your separation
Your kids will be processing many feelings about your separation. You need to validate & encourage their feelings & answer their questions as honestly as you can while being respectful of your ex.
You need your children to be able to talk about things that are bothering them. Be mindful of how you respond so they don’t feel judged or worried about hurting your feelings with their questions.
Kids of divorce each have their own individual experience. Younger children may not have the words to explain how they’re feeling therefore they could regress & become needier. Adolescents may be angry, they could blame one parent & align with the other, or they may lash out verbally or physically.
8. Show solidarity on your children’s behalf
There will be times when you and your ex must both show up for your kids such as sporting events, dance recitals, birthday parties & graduations. This will allow your kids will benefit emotionally by seeing you both speak to one another in casually & friendly ways.
9. Find help
Despite your best efforts your children may still struggle with your divorce therefore you may need professional help. Find a good family counsellor or paediatric therapist who can help guide your children & provide strategies to help them, & you, through this difficult time.
Your paediatrician may have the names of some professionals they trust. Divorce isn’t just a separation & legal process that affects you & your soon-to-be ex, it can overwhelm your kids & it affects the entire family.
At Capelin Law, we offer more simply being a divorce lawyer. We believe that there are ways to navigate divorce through collaborative law & practice that reduces the emotional strain on a family so they can look forward to a stronger, happier future.
Need help? Schedule a Free 15 Minute Call with us, or organise a Fixed Price Initial Separation Strategy Meeting for $495 – available via phone, Skype, Teams or in person ay our Cammeray Office, North Sydney.