Divorce is stressful for everyone involved, but children are often hit hardest during and after the process. In part, this is because they have no choice in the matter and are often caught up in the drama of their parent’s crumbling relationship. They have few, if any choices, and sometimes even get used as tools by one parent who is hoping to harm the other. As a result, children struggle with divorce, and the symptoms of their stress can manifest in numerous ways that make the process harder for everyone.
Although the ways in which a child reacts to divorce will differ on a case by case basis, there are many things the parents can do to ease the transition and make the process less stressful. We often meet with clients whose divorces have become so contentious, that they are now having additional difficulties with their children that could have been avoided, if only they had handled certain situations differently. With that in mind, we have put together a list of the top ten things all parents can do during divorce, to make the entire divorce easier for their kids.
Prioritize your children
It’s easy, during a divorce, to get caught up in all the stuff you have to take care of, and let your children’s needs take a backseat. However, if you set aside some time every day to just cuddle or talk or take a walk, your kids are less likely to feel unimportant. Feeling important and cared for goes a long way towards helping kids deal with stress and change during difficult times.
Create structure and stability
Divorce usually means that things your children took for granted as ‘normal’ have suddenly changed. Perhaps it means one parent moving out, or the fact that they have to move to a new home. Perhaps it means less time with a certain parent, or having to give up on certain things because they are no longer affordable. Either way, do your best to keep the disruptions in their daily routines to a minimum. Schedule and structure are important to a child’s sense of stability, so maintaining a routine will help them to feel stable during these emotionally turbulent times.
Let them express their emotions
Divorce is hard and kids are going to experience fear, anxiety, frustration, anger and sorrow, to name a few. Allow your children the freedom to express their feelings about the divorce, even if what they say is painful or difficult for you to hear. They have a right to their feelings, and they need to know that you’re willing to listen to what they have to say.
Keep both parents involved
We know that there will be situations where it just isn’t possible for both parents to remain actively involved in their children’s lives. Domestic abuse situations are a classic example of this. But if at all possible, you should do all you can to ensure that both you and your spouse stay involved in your kid’s lives. The sudden disappearance of one parent can be very difficult for children to understand. A parent who goes from being part of daily life to a once-weekly or even monthly visit can result in children feeling unloved. In these cases, many children assume that they are at fault for the sudden disappearance of daddy or mommy, and the guilt can have a terrible effect on their self esteem.
Regularly remind them of your love
We cannot stress this enough! Your children will be struggling with fear, sadness, guilt and even shame during and after the divorce. So it’s important that you reassure them regularly that both you and your spouse still love them very much. Love goes a long way towards healing emotional wounds and making hard times easier to bear.
Join us next time as we wrap up this two part series on the top ten things parents can do to make the divorce easier on their children. Until then, if you or a loved one need help with a divorce, child custody, parenting time, or any other aspect of family law, we are here to help. The experienced attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have spent decades helping the people of Michigan plan for their futures. We can help you too. Call 866 766 5245 today.An attorney is standing by to discuss your case with you.