Divorce is difficult and distressing for the separating couple, but for the children it is just as traumatic. It is a major upheaval in the stability of their lives – what they thought they could count on has become uncertain. As they see the circumstances of their family life shifting, they start to worry about a lot of things.
One of the best things you can do for your children, both during the divorce process and after the divorce, is to tell them what they need to know to reduce the worry, and provide stability in their lives to reduce stress and anxiety.
Stability During the Divorce Process
Breaking the news about the divorce to your children will not be easy, but the sooner you tell them the more time they will have to adjust and to talk things over with you as their questions arise. If possible, try to have both parents present for the initial discussion and make it as peaceful as possible – leave feelings of anger, blame, or resentment out of this conversation. If this feels difficult, a Divorce With Dignity provider (www.findaprovider.dwdignity.com) can work with you to find a way to achieve a peaceful framework with your spouse through the divorce.
Focus on giving the children the information they need to feel reassured and secure. Be sure they understand that it is not their fault. Let them know they still have a family and will still be taken care of. Tell them that both of you will always love them.
Talk to them about the things that will be changing, and just as important, the things that will remain the same. Give them answers to questions and worries they may have, keeping in mind that this will be an ongoing process throughout the divorce.
Sometimes children will not always articulate what is worrying them, so the more you can anticipate and address what their concerns might be, the better. Some of these may be:
- Where will each parent live?
- Who will I live with?
- When will I get to spend time with the other parent?
- Will I still get to see other family members (uncles, aunts, grandparents)?
- How will we celebrate birthdays and holidays? Will we be together?
- Will I move? Change schools?
- Will I still see my friends?
- Do I still get to do my normal activities, such as soccer, summer camp, dance lessons, etc.?
Children of divorcing parents might also worry that they will have to “take sides” and choose one parent over the other. It is very important to assure them that this is not the case.
In addition to answering questions and addressing worries, you can create stability for your children by keeping a consistent routine and structure for them. This provides comfort and will help them adjust to the changes that are occurring around them. Having familiar day-to-day activities helps children know what to expect, putting them more at ease.
Stability After the Divorce Process
Naturally, the process of providing stability for children continues after the divorce and is ongoing. Studies have shown that children who live in stable family situations after a divorce do much better than those who don’t, and fare almost as well as children whose parents are not divorced. Stability includes supporting your children’s desires to love and maintain a relationship with both parents. It also involves cultivating peaceful interactions with your ex-spouse, especially in the presence of your children.
To achieve this, be sure to get the support you need to recover from your divorce. A Divorce With Dignity provider can help you find the resources you need. To find a provider near you, please visit findaprovider.dwdignity.com.
Let us help you through your divorce with peace and dignity, while maintaining stability and security for your children.
The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions