Divorce can be an incredibly difficult time for a child. Suddenly, everything they have known is changed—their family dynamic, where they live, when they see their parents regularly, etc. When parents get divorced, often their biggest concern is the wellbeing of their children. As divorce lawyers in St. Charles, we have witnessed first-hand the best and worst ways a parent can handle the feelings their kids are experiencing during this difficult time. We have put together a list of ways you can ensure that you are providing a helping hand for your children and approaching your divorce in a constructive way.
Tips for helping your children through your divorce:
Listen to your child – This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but many parents forget this step even without the stress of a divorce to occupy their focus. Your child can be experiencing a lot of emotions during this time, sometimes anger, sadness, frustration, confusion, etc. It is important to listen and validate their emotions while ensuring that they understand what is happening and why it is happening.
Don’t bad mouth your ex – This can be difficult, especially if you and your partner split on bad terms. You may want your child to be on your side or to know the truth (for example, if the divorce occurred because your ex was unfaithful). Keep this talk away from your children. Even if they ask about why your divorce happened or how you feel about your ex, provide an honest answer without bashing the reputation of your former spouse.
Try to stay on a united front – Again, this is easier said than done. Not every divorce ends amicably or with the potential of friendship. It is important to note that you do not have to be friends, or even friendly, with your ex in order to provide a united front. Using as much communication as needed, make sure that you and your former spouse understand how you will handle parenting, what is acceptable and unacceptable, rules of the house, punishments, etc. You don’t want your child to be ping-ponged between two different fronts with the possibility to become confused or overwhelmed.
Stay invested in their lives – Much like the first step, being an active participant in your child’s life can tell them that they are still important to you, even when everything else is changing. It is important to monitor their interests. Are they still invested in their old hobbies? Are they keeping their grades up and behaving in school? Staying active in their activities and schoolwork not only shows that you are interested in their life, but it also gives you an opportunity to catch any warning signs of an emotional impact.