Parenting Through A Divorce: Best Tips
Divorcing is never easy, but when you have kids to think about, the breakup of a relationship can become even more difficult. It’s important that, although you are facing a tough time, you do all that you can to ensure that your kids are not too badly affected by the divorce. It won’t be easy, but if you go about it in the right way, you can minimize the impact of your split on your kids and ensure that they do not face too many problems in the weeks and months to come. Good parenting is even more important in these times.
In order to help you through this difficult time, I’ve put together some tips to help you get through your divorce as parents. Of course, all families are different, and not each suggestion will be applicable in your case, but take what you can from this post to make the adjustment an easier one for you, your spouse and your children.
Dealing with the Kids’ Feelings
When your kids find out that you are divorcing, they are obviously going to have some pretty strong feelings. It is important that you let them express these feelings in any way they need to.
It is of the utmost important that both of you, if possible, sit down and have a discussion with the children. Encourage them to speak up and let you know how they feel and so not judge them for the way they feel, positive or negative. There is a good chance that they will be angry with one or both of you, try not to be too upset about this and do your best to answer any questions the kids may have honestly.
It’s important to note that after the initial conversation with the kids, your work is not over. As the process of divorce moves forward, the children are likely to experience more concerns and have more questions about everything from their living arrangements to why the divorce is taking place. In fact, kids might still have questions about the divorce years after it happens, as they get older and more mature and think about things more deeply. It’s important that you answer these questions, even if you feel like you’re covering old ground over and over again because your children need to understand if they are to grow into healthy happy adults who have good relationships with their parents.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
I understand that the divorce process can be very upsetting, so if you don’t feel that you are able to fully tackle the kids’ questions right now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with enlisting some help with this. Getting grandma, grandpa, a close friend, or even a divorce group for kids to have a talk with the kids until you feel abler will help to ensure that their most pressing questions are answered right now.
Spend More Time with the Kids
When you’re going through the process of divorce, it is usually a good idea to both spend more time with the children. They will be worried that they are in some way to blame for the divorce and they might feel like one or both parents a don’t love them anymore. You need to reassure and show them that this really is not the case and the beat way to do this is with lots of quality time together having fun.
Ask Them What They Want
It’s important that you ask your kids what they want from a divorce. It should be at least partially down to them who they choose to live with post-divorce. Many children will not want to choose between parents, so you shouldn’t push them, but you should reassure them that neither parent will be mad or upset if they decide they want to live with the other
. It’s much better, if you can, to try and work out custody arrangements amicably with the help of a good child custody lawyer if necessary. The less fighting over the kids you can do, the happier they will be, and that really is the most important thing right now.
Shield the Kids for Conflict
Although it would be ideal, it’s probably unrealistic to hope that you and your spouse will not get into any major conflicts during the divorce process. This is only natural, but what you can do is keep the conflict away from the kids. Never argue about your situation when the kids might be able to hear you, and if you can arrange for a friend or family member to take them out for ice cream or to the park when you need to discuss important issues. Even when you think you are being discreet, if the kids are nearby, there’s a good chance they’ll pick up on your animosity, and it will upset them, especially if they feel like they need to take sides.
Although you will definitely want to shield your kids from conflict, depending on their age, you will still want to acknowledge the events that have led to the divorce. It’s important that when you do this, you do so in a neutral way. It might be hard, especially if your spouse has abandoned you or had an affair, but it’s for the benefit of your children, so such it up, state the facts when you’re asked and try not to say or do anything that will add to their distress.
Avoid Making Your Children Go-Betweens
It can be tempting to use your children as messengers, especially if communication has all but broken down between your ex-spouse and you, but it really isn’t a good idea. Not only does it put the children in a difficult position, but it could lead to them being resentful of the whole thing, and they might get stressed, depressed or anxious when they know that they’re going to be asked to tell one parent something they might not like.
Look for Signs of Mental Illness
It’s sad, but it’s not uncommon for children going through their parents’ divorce to develop mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. It is, therefore, important that you keep a close eye on your kids in the first couple of years after a divorce especially. If they become withdrawn, fatigued and their personality changes in any way, it might be worth having a chat with them, and if necessary taking them to see a counselor who specializes in dealing with children of divorce.
Employ Stress Reduction Techniques
All members of the family are likely to be under considerable stress when going through a divorce, so it is vital that you do whatever you can to reduce your stress levels. This could be as simple as seeking the support of friends and relatives or taking the kids to a group where they can meet with other children going through the same thing and vent their feelings with other people who understand. You could also make more effort to organize regular family events to bring the fun back into life.
It’s also easy for the whole family to sink into despair and negativity when things start to fall apart, but it isn’t inevitable, especially if you do what you can to encourage positivity. It might be hard, but accentuating positives in life to the children will really help to give you all a boost.
Expect Problems with New Family Members
If you or your ex-spouse starts seeing a new person or step-kids suddenly come into the equation, you will need to prepare for some negative reactions from the kids. Some kids simply cannot accept new spouses, and they may feel pushed out by them or their children if there are any. Try to treat them kindly at this time, while also pointing out that they will always be loved and new people coming on the scene will not change that.
You should also try to them that everyone deserves to be happy and if a new spouse is what makes their parents happy, they should try to accept it. Don’t force them to be happy with the changes, but encourage them, listen to their concerns and do what you can to make them feel better about the whole thing.
Look After Yourself
When you’re a parent going through the process of getting a divorce, it’s only natural to concentrate all of your energy on your kids, trying to ensure that they are as comfortable as possible throughout the whole process, and this is important, but you must also make time to look after yourself and seek self-care too. After all, it is your marriage that is ending, and you will have your own emotions, not to mention practical issues to deal with. So, schedule time to chat with close friends, book a massage and get plenty of rest. You’ll feel stronger as a result, and you’ll be better able to take care of your children if you’re well rested and mentally strong, too.
Are you a divorced parent? How did you make the process easier on your kids? Parenting during a divorce has it’s own set of challenges we often aren’t prepared for so I hope these tips help.