The divorce process is a highly emotional time. When children are involved, the emotion meter escalates tenfold, with parents left wondering how to meet both their own needs and those of their children. And, regardless of their age, children contemplate whether they played a role in the divorce and often feel the need to choose one parent over the other.
While there is no avoiding the swaying emotions, you can alleviate some of the pain your children are experiencing. Helping your kids maneuver the feelings brought on by divorce means providing stability in the home and putting the children's' needs ahead of your own. The process won't come without some bumps in the road, but these tips can help you and your children cope with these life changes.
Breaking the news
When it comes to breaking the news to the children, many parents are at a loss for words. For everyone's emotional health, it is critical for parents to have an open and honest discussion, prior to sitting down with their kids. Anticipate any difficult questions that might come up, and map out a plan for how much you will tell them. Never place blame on the other parent, as this only fuels your child's confusion, leaving them feeling alone. Your ultimate goal is to keep the line of communication open at all times.
The adjustment period
Once you've broken the news to your children, there will be an adjustment period. The growing pains that come with divorce are incredibly difficult for most adults. Consider how the kids are feeling. As the parent, your priority is to offer stability and structure, restoring your child's trust in love and security. This means observing the three R's - routines, rituals and reassurance. By doing so, you offer them a refuge from the chaos - a safe haven in a world that has suddenly been turned upside down.
Establishing a child custody agreement
Many divorcing parents have found that working together to come to an agreement on child custody is the healthiest and most efficient way to ease the challenges that come with life, post-separation. Negotiation fosters cooperation amongst the parents, reminding them that the focus should be on the best interests of the child. And, since you know your children and their needs better than anyone else, it only makes sense that you should be collectively guiding their future, married or not.
Your attorney is there to ensure your parental rights are protected, both now and moving forward, and that your children are shielded from outside influences and emotional leveraging. Remember, you are making the best out of a difficult situation, and your children should be handled with the utmost of care.