When parents initially approach the subject of divorce with one another, one of their first concerns is normally how the children will take it. Fortunately, children are far more resilient than many adults give them credit for, and with the proper approach and support, most children can adapt quite well to the changes occurring in their life during and after a divorce.
In order to achieve this positive outcome for their kids, all divorcing parents should seek to execute the dissolution of their marriage—and coparenting afterwards—in a manner that will provide their children with the best opportunity for healthy coping and a smooth transition. Thus, we have put together a list of useful tips that will help you minimize the stress your children will face as a result of your divorce and put them in a position to succeed moving forward.
Tip No. 1: Consider a Mediated or Collaborative Divorce
If possible, divorcing parents should always seek to avoid taking their dissolution to court by means of utilizing mediation or collaborative divorce. These alternative methods of dispute resolution are not only better for children during the divorce itself—they are less contentious, more private, and generally less strenuous for kids—but also foster behaviors and outcomes between parents that will allow them to coparent far more effectively after the divorce. The process encourages respectful behavior and open discussion, includes the guidance of mental health professionals, and strives to keep the focus of the divorce on what will be best for the kids rather than the various subjects of your marital strife.
Tip No. 2: Minimize parental conflict
Watching their parents fight is incredibly traumatizing for children at any age. If you must discuss a contentious issue with your spouse, do so where the kids can’t see or hear you and keep your voices—and your emotions—under control. Shouting and belittling will never create a positive result anyway. You should also refrain from criticizing the other parent in front of the children, as it can distress them even more by causing them to feel intense guilt for their love of their parent.
Tip No. 3: Keep divorce-related transitions to a minimum
Fewer transitions means less stress for the children. Certain changes can’t be avoided, such as living with only one parent instead of both at the same time, and under some circumstances they may have to change schools, move into a new neighborhood, or adjust to reduced financial circumstances. Limit all transitions to those that are absolutely necessary and go the extra mile to help your children cope with them. For example: if you have to move, arrange playdates and sleepovers with their old friends while encouraging them to make new ones.
Tip No. 4: Reassure them that they’re not responsible for the breakup
Young children in particular will worry that the divorce is their fault. Gently explain that this is a grown-up problem and there was nothing they could do to cause or prevent it from happening. Help them understand that while the divorce is final (some kids may take it upon themselves to get their parents back together), you and their other parent love them very much and will continue to do so.
Tip No. 5: Facilitate regular access to both parents
Whichever parent has sole or primary physical custody of the children should encourage them to see their other parent frequently. Most children benefit from maintaining positive and consistent relationships with both of their parents, so while you may want to spend as much time as possible with your kids, it is important that your kids be given plenty of time with their other parent as well without having to feel guilty or like they are going behind your back to do so.
Tip No. 6: Take care of yourself
You need to take care of yourself so you can be there for the kids. Exercise, eat a healthy diet, discuss your feelings with close friends and/or a professional therapist, and allow yourself time to grieve and cope. When you are calm and focused, the children will be more at ease.
Whether your children are toddlers or teenagers, minimizing the stress of divorce will make a potentially upsetting event far easier for them to handle, enable them to move on much more quickly, and even help them thrive. If you would like to learn more about healthy ways of coping with divorce for both you and your children, please feel free to contact the law firm of Freed Marcroft today!
Freed Marcroft’s attorneys guide select clients through the legal aspects of divorce and family law issues while remaining mindful of their overall wellness.
To discuss our helping with your situation, contact us today either here or by phone.