Dealing with divorce is never easy for every member of the family. When a marriage breaks up, the impact can be detrimental and have crucially negative effects on the child's mental and developmental well-being. We all agree that the divorce process is very stressful and can be extremely draining, both emotionally and mentally, but when there are children involved, the ideal situation is when there's a cooperation between both parents for the benefit of their children.
Because although the children are innocent in this situation, they are the ones who suffer the most. And while many parents try to keep the splitting process from impacting their relationship with the kids, it can sometimes be difficult to balance your own emotions with the welfare and stability of your children.
But with the following tips, you should be able to protect your children as much as possible from the hurt and pain that comes with divorce.
1. Break The News Together
Once both parents have concluded in making the decision to divorce and separate, making the announcement to the children together should be the next move. First off, this signifies that both parents are mature enough to work together despite the situation, but for the sake of their children. And although this may not be possible in every divorce case, do your best if it is possible in your case as this creates the perfect atmosphere for a family discussion. All questions should be entertained for both clarification and understanding.
2. Shower The Children With Love
In order to protect your children through this divorce process, you must understand that they need so much love and assurance from both parents. As painful as divorce can be, showering your kids with love and making it your responsibility is one of the most therapeutic ways of soothing the divorce process.
Oftentimes, children blame themselves for the divorce, this must be prevented and outright corrected as this act has a way of affecting their self-esteem negatively. Reassure them constantly that they are never to blame themselves and that you'll always love them. They may even need professional support and guidance to work through their feelings as children sometimes do not want to hurt parents’ feelings so therefore keep things to themselves.
3. Take The Bad Talk Somewhere Else
Talking bad about each other to your children is utterly wrong and should be avoided. Tearing down the other parent does not solve the situation, it worsens it, and if you want to protect your kid, you'll allow him or her to figure out who the bad parent is (if there's any). Expressing your rage, dislike or frustrations to the kids will just confuse them and put them in a very difficult situation of choosing a side. This can cause depression and anxiety in children. It is imperative that you put your personal feelings aside and think about the welfare of your children.
4. Maintain Stability During The Divorce
Maintaining stability should be the goal of both parents during the divorce. Most of the regular activities should be continued as this is a great way of helping them cope with the situation. Although it is important to speak to them about the divorce openly and allow them to express how it affects them, being stable in most activity will still keep them in focus and lessen the level of destabilization.
Also, ensure that routines are duly adhered to as this will remind them that they can always count on you for stability and care.
5. Support Your Children
To protect your children from the severity of the divorce, you will need to support them in everything they do. The feeling of support from both parents makes the entire process easier on them. In most cases, the parent who left utterly disappears and that's not the best way to go about it, access to the children should be granted as much as possible. Preventing this only affects the kid even more negatively.
6. Do Things Together For The Sheer Joy of It
This is in most cases may be very difficult, but it is doable, and that's all that matters. Engage in things that make you happy and make sure your children are doing the same. Everybody in the family needs to recover from the divorce and having fun together will definitely help everyone. The best part is, doing this together also helps you stay committed to your kids.
This is among the parents, sharing information about the children with each other helps a lot. As it is traditional that the children will be staying with one parent during the divorce, hoarding information about the children from one another, which in most cases is done to hurt the other parent only ends up hurting the child tremendously. For example, withholding information such as school ceremonies, sporting events, etc., may make the child feel like the missing parent is just neglecting them, which in turn can yield to anger, depression, and resentment in the life of the child. Share pictures, videos and information so both parents can enjoy a child’s special moments.
It is now up to you as a parent to protect your children, be ready for some selfless acts in order to protect the children you love. And although some the task mentioned above appear to be impossible, it is actually not. It is just difficult, and yes, everything may not really flow seamlessly, yet with the tips above, your children will not only successfully survive this unsettling time, but will emerge from it healthy and emotionally stable, feeling loved, confident, and strong. Seeking family therapy can be very beneficial during separation and divorce process to ensure you or the other parent is not falling into making mistakes that can end up hurting the child emotionally.
At Wake Counseling, our therapists or counselors work with children and families to help them make a healthy transition during separation and divorce. For more information, visit our couples counseling and child counseling page or call 919-647-4600 to book for a session.