Divorce isn’t easy for anyone, but children can take it particularly hard. Many children don’t understand what is happening and many more feel the divorce is somehow their fault.
Here’s how you can help your child cope:
The divorce should be explained in simple and straightforward terms. If at all possible, both parents should be part of the conversation. Your language should be tailored to the age of your children as well. So for instance, when speaking with very small children you might say something like, “Mommy and Daddy yell at each other a lot and everyone is feeling unhappy. So we have decided to live in different houses. But we love you very much and we will both take care of you still.”
Keep Things Predictable
Children do best when their environments are familiar and predictable. Do your best to provide the structure and routine your children have become used to.
Explain How Things Will Work
Many children will panic at the news, they will not understand how both Mommy and Daddy will both remain in their lives. So clearly explain how things will work going forward. “You will spend weekends with Daddy, and the rest of the time you will be here with Mommy.” You may also want to work on creating a calendar together so your child has something to refer to, which can be grounding for them.
Never Speak Badly About Your Ex
Your ex may have caused you a lot of emotional pain in your relationship, but to your child, that ex is their mommy or daddy. Never speak unkindly about your child’s other parent.
Encourage Your Children to Speak Honestly About Their Emotions
Your child will sense that YOU are dealing with a lot of emotions, and, wanting to protect you, he or she will keep their emotions to themselves. It’s important that you encourage your children to talk to you candidly about how they are feeling. Let them know they can come to you at any time and talk to you whether they are scared, sad, or angry.
Everyone’s situation is different – and all children are different. Some may take the news better than others. You may find that your child is suffering more than you originally expected. If this happens, it may be a good idea to seek help from a trained family therapist, who can give all of you helpful coping tools. It may be that You need the support as no one plans to get divorced when they are saying “I do” at their wedding.
If you would like to explore how counseling can help you through this challenging season of your life, please call me. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.