Even in the most amicable of divorces, children suddenly find themselves facing a lot of change: dealing with new living arrangements, spending less time with their parents or siblings, and sometimes even attending new schools. Divorce is never easy for anyone.
But there are things you can do to try to minimize the impact divorce has on your kids. Writer and divorcee Susan Orlins offers the following 10 tips:
- Tell them they are not the reason you are getting divorce. Often when parents split, kids assume that it was because of them, but that is not the case. They may have overheard you arguing about them, and are quick to accept the blame. Be clear with them: they could not have prevented the divorce – nor did they cause it.
- Don’t trash talk your ex. Even if your ex was the most horrible person on the planet, he or she is still your child’s parent, so bad-mouth comments will only make your child defensive.
- Encourage the kids to have a good relationship with both of their parents.
- Let them express their feelings. They will probably be upset after the divorce. Don’t try to force them to be cheerful. They will know when you’re being fake; let them know it’s okay to be sad.
- Be clear that you are never getting back together. Some kids may think life is like “The Parent Trap” and that they’ll be able to get their parents back together. If you know that you will never reunite with your ex, tell them that.
- Create new traditions. Since they are likely going to be splitting time with both parents, it is important to make the most of the time you do spend together. Create new rituals that are fun for them – it can be simple as having breakfast foods for dinner or going camping every Labor Day.
- Think about adding a pet to the family. Give them a few months after the divorce so they have time to adjust, and then think about getting a pet. A pet is a great way for a “new” family unit to bond – especially if everyone shares in the responsibility.
- Let them talk to a therapist. Many health insurance companies will cover counseling – check to see if yours does and find a therapist who is experienced with children. If it’s not covered, then make sure they have the opportunity to speak with someone they trust. They will need someone to confide in who is not you or your ex.
- Compromise with your ex for the good of the kids. Don’t make your kids feel like they are stuck in the middle on birthdays and major holidays. Allow them to spend time with both parents on those days. If possible, agree with your ex to celebrate the kids’ birthdays together. The more amicable your relationship with your ex, the easier it is for everyone.
- Put the kids before any new love interests. New love interests often enter the picture after divorce and kids are left feeling resentful when the new love tries to “replace” their other parent. By making it clear that your kids come first, it will be easier for them to accept your new relationship.
Please contact me if you wish to discuss helping your kids deal with divorce.