Divorce has a way of effecting everyone in the family, but, in most situations, the children are the primary concern. Children can become confused by the process of a divorce and may not fully understand why their parents are sad, or yelling, or why one parent does not live in the house anymore. To ease the confusion, and to make the process of divorce as painless as possible for your little ones, we’ve come up with a few reliable ways you can help your family.
Put Your Child’s Needs First
Make sure there is no question that your child knows how important they are. While this time may be confusing and overwhelming for you, it is likely even more perplexing for them. Some children wrongfully blame themselves, or question whether or not both parents will still love them the same now that the family unit is changing. Remind your child of your love for them, make time to go to the park, to see a movie, and to spend time reminding them of their importance in your life.
While you don’t want to badmouth your ex to your child, and some things are certainly not for little ears, do try to be as honest with your child as possible. If they ask you why you’re crying, tell them you’re sad; don’t brush it under the rug. It may comfort them and help your child to realize it is okay for them to feel sad, too. If your child wants to express how he or she feels about the current situation, make sure they know they can let that expression out.
Talk to Your Child
Always make sure the lines of communication between you and your child are open. The stress or awkwardness of the situation may make your child more inclined to clam up, but encourage them to discuss their feelings with you. Even if all they wish to tell you about is their day at school, listen and appreciate their communication for what it is. If you fear your child isn’t communicating well, and needs to, consider finding a counselor or therapist they can speak to.
Don’t Let Your Child See You Fight
It may be old advice, but it is overstated for a reason. Do not let your children see you and your ex fight, ever. The conflict can be difficult for your child, and it could likely make them feel torn between the two of you, forced to choose a side. Avoid putting your child in this painful position, and do your best not to let them see you at your worst.
Try to work out an agreement with your child’s parent and see if you two can’t put aside your differences for the wellbeing of your child. Don’t bring up difficult, hot topics with your child in the room, set aside designated times, without your child present, where the two of you can discuss your divorce, custody issues, or anything else. If you and your ex are unable to be civil, drop your children off outside and avoid face to face encounters unless necessary, or meet on neutral ground where fights are less likely.
Do your best to work with your ex for the sake of your child. If he or she needs you to adjust your custody schedule, try your best to work together to find something that works for both of you. Tension may be high, and you may not want to do anything to help your ex, but think of it as helping your child, and do what you can to come to agreements whenever possible.
Use Your Back-Up
When you or your ex are unable to watch your child, or maybe you think your child could simple use a day away, call on your support systems. Let your child stay and the grandparents’ house for the night so that you and your ex can go to court. Plan a play date with your child’s friend on a weekend to encourage some light-hearted fun. Having other, important, people your child loves make regular appearances in their life can make the process much less overwhelming.
No matter which way you cut it, divorce is hard. We’ve all seen the statistics, divorce can be tough on children, but if you and your ex make a conscious effort to support and love your child throughout the process, it is sure to make a positive difference.
For legal help with your divorce or custody agreements, contact Sekella Law, PLLC, today.