Divorce is never easy for both parents and children. Everyone in the family feels an immense sense of anxiety and loss. The family who falls under the affliction of divorce will no longer be the same. Parents need to settle their own emotions, particularly the occurring guilt they feel towards their children.
While you cannot take away your child’s pain, you can help them deal with the various disappointments that a separation brings. Here are the things you can do.
How To Break the News?
Have a sincere conversation with your children together with your spouse. Then explain that you two are getting a divorce. Don’t try to sugarcoat, speak honestly but don’t include the ugly details.
Confess that the experience will be sad. See to it that your child understands that a divorce is only between the two of you. And repeatedly remind your child that he or she is not the reason for the divorce and that both of your love for him or her didn’t change.
Expect Different Reactions
It’s normal for children to show interests in concrete things such as “Do I need to change schools?”, “ Where will I live?” or “Who’s going to take me to my extra-curricular lessons?” You need to maintain your child’s routine as much as possible while working out the terms of the divorce. Your child feels secure when he or she knows what to expect.
When the reality of the divorce finally settles to your children’s mind, expect to receive different reactions such as;
- Toddlers. A child at this age might respond by becoming clingy, irritable or waking up at night.
- Preschoolers. A child in this age needs extra help in comprehending that he or she is not the root of the divorce. He or she also needs aid in understanding that there’s nothing he or she can do to bring you and your ex-spouse together.
- Elementary schoolers. Children in this age bracket are more likely to express anger. They fantasize about you getting back together, might worry about what will happen to you and your spouse and look for someone to blame including themselves.
- Teenagers and adults. An older child is more likely to feel depressed or worried that he or she will also fall in the same situation someday. Teens might consider risky behavior and question their beliefs.
The situations above are just the common possibilities for a child’s reaction. Hence, it’s vital to encourage your child to open up his or her feelings about the divorce.
Make Sure Your Child Feels Well-loved
According to M. Gary Neuman, author of Helping Your Kids Cope With Divorce the Sandcastles Way and creator of the Sandcastles Divorce Therapy Program, children assume that they are somehow to blame when a parent regularly doesn’t come through.
If only they behaved more or do better in school, then surely their parents will stay together and be with them. As a result, their confidence hurdles. Thus, you need to reassure your child that your ex-spouse’s commitment issues have nothing to do with his or her lovability.
Don’t Bend The Rules
It could be tempting to take a break from your parental duties while your child is mourning over the divorce, but it will only generate more insecurity. Children thrive on structure, routine and consistency even if they insist on testing limits and boundaries. If your child divides time between two households, try to retain the same rules in two homes.
You can consider using the services of a family or divorce mediator if you and your spouse need help in reaching decisions about your child before, during or after the divorce. Most local and international divorce attorney would recommend you of doing so because your kids could also benefit from counseling especially if he or she is showing signs of anxiety and distress.
Divorce is always a hard blow for everyone, however, if both parents continue to build a calm and stable environment for their children and make them feel loved, children will survive the situation in good shape. And they will be calmer as they gradually accept everything.