Nobody gets married thinking their partnership will end in divorce, but unfortunately, it is a sad reality for almost half the married population.
Going through a divorce is never an easy process, particularly when there are children to consider. It isn’t an unusual occurrence; however, it can get tricky if your children are involved. Here are the dos and don’ts to help ease your child into the process and realities of divorce.
Do: Keep an open dialogue with your child
Divorce is scary for children because they might not fully understand what it means or the reasons behind why one parent isn’t going to be around all the time anymore. It brings on a lot of change that isn’t easily explained to young ones. Keeping an open dialogue is helpful so your kids can ask questions if they need to, but don’t push them. Make sure you’re transparent as well so as to not confuse them.
Don’t: Force your child to choose
When it comes time for family get-togethers, like holidays, birthday celebrations, or other important events, don’t make your kids choose between spending it with one parent or the other. Ultimately, it’s up to them whether they want to visit, so be prepared for that reality. Instead, cooperate with your ex and work together to find a way to accommodate everyone’s wishes. Maybe the compromise is to host two separate events, or to simply both be present and amicable in front of them.
Do: Seek out a child therapist
These circumstances are life-altering and can be traumatic for children of divorce. Seeking out a child therapist who specializes in divorce is a good way to foster discussion and encourage your child to express their feelings on the subject.
Don’t: Wrap your child up in legal proceedings
Divorce usually means lawyers are involved (if you’re looking for a family lawyer to help your transition, visit DeatonLaw.net), but that doesn’t mean your kids should be involved with the lawyer. If possible, try and protect your kids from the legal part of the proceedings.
Do: Co-parent with your ex
Divorced parents certainly can succeed at co-parenting, as long as there is good communication and set agreed-upon boundaries for your children that you both will enforce. If it helps, treat it as a business relationship with your ex – establish meetings, plan agendas, have discussions, and take the emotion out of it.
Don’t: Undermine each other’s authority
Parenting is tough enough as it is while being 100 percent present in your child’s life, let alone co-parenting and not being able to be there all the time to witness every milestone or discipline every misbehavior. If you undermine each other’s authority, you could hurt your or your ex’s ability to parent and confuse your kids by sending mixed messages. If one parent is making it tough, have a conversation separate from your children.
Do: Acknowledge things have changed
Divorce is traumatic for children because the future is unknown, and suddenly, everything they know about their family is changing. It helps to acknowledge the changes and discuss how it will be different going forward.
Don’t: Rush into a new relationship and expect your child to understand
They won’t understand, and furthermore, this could very well upset them if they don’t fully grasp the situation at hand. Starting a new relationship is perfectly fine and normal, but consider keeping a distance between your new partner and your children for a while until they have adjusted to the changes. Introduce them slowly and let them express how they feel about everything.