A divorce is an emotionally difficult experience for everyone involved—you, your spouse, and your kids. There is conflict in the house and likely has been for some time, and that conflict affects everyone. But you and your spouse are the adults, and—while you may be struggling to get through the day yourself—you need to consider those in your care.
Divorce may be the best thing for all involved in an ultimate sense, but don’t forget to do what’s best for your kids in the process.
How to protect your kids from emotional harm
- Clarify that it is not the child’s fault. Many children, especially young children, feel the divorce might stem from something they did or did not do. It’s vital to deny that thought early on and reassure your child.
- Be honest with your child. Tell them what’s happening in words they can actually understand and don’t sugarcoat the truth to the point that it’s unrecognizable.
- Help your child process their feelings. Hear them out and tell them that whatever they’re feeling right now is okay. If you’re concerned about what they’re telling you, it might be a good idea to have them see a counselor. Leave your one-on-one conversation with visions of happier times to come.
How to preserve both spouses’ relationship with the kids
- Avoid speaking negatively about your spouse or blaming anyone for the divorce. This will only create more bad blood and could lead your children to choose sides, creating further tension and division in your family.
- Divide up schedules fairly, including special occasions like holidays and birthdays. Make decisions together as co-parents OR abide by whatever the court decides.
- Show up when you say you will and cooperate with your co-parent. Don’t ever put your kids in the middle.
Divorce is tough but not an impossible barrier for your kids to overcome. They will get through this and so will you.