Divorce is a challenging situation. As the process progresses, families have to uproot their entire lives in order to create a new routine. Many times, the family house has to be put on the market, parents find new places to live, and the children no longer have access to both parents at once.
The transition is especially tricky for children for many reasons. Many times they do not understand what is going on, and they often act out as a way to release their emotions. Some go through major behavior changes, while others become easily upset or angry. In other cases, the children begin to take on the emotions of their parents, and suffer later in life as a result.
Fortunately, things do not have to be this way. Our team at Stange Law Firm understands the divorce process. We have seen many of our clients go through difficult transitions, and we know that it is possible to do so with minimal collateral damage. This is why we have assembled our best tips on how to make divorce easier for your kids.
- Be Honest
Kids are incredibly perceptive. More often than not, they know when you are telling the truth and when you are lying. Though you may believe that telling them a lie is best for their well-being, in truth it does more harm than good. Try to be as honest as your child’s age allows. This is to say, don’t tell them information that is not appropriate for their age, but try to be honest about everything that it is okay for them to know.
- Validate Their Feelings
Your children will likely have strong feelings about what is going on. Remember that they are still children, and they don’t have the same emotional regulation tactics that adults have. Allow them to express their emotions as they need to, while ensuring that they are physically safe.
Making statements of validation is incredibly helpful during this time. Saying things like, “this is very sad, I know, and I’m sad too,” or, “it makes sense that you are angry, how can we safely express that?” can really help them in the long run. Becoming angry or upset with them for their emotions will only make things worse.
- Open The Floor For Questions
Your children are probably not strangers to the idea of divorce. Between television and their friends at school, they likely know what divorce is. Ask them if they have any questions, and allow them time to consider what they want to know.
Try not to shy away from any of the questions, and answer as honestly as you can. Doing this right away sets the stage for future conversations, and helps them feel comfortable coming to you with questions rather than searching the internet.
- Present Them With A Timeline
Kids are very adaptable, but they do still need time to adjust to change. Try to break the news to them at least a week before anything starts to change. When you tell them that you are divorcing, try to give them a timeline of how things will happen. For example, “in one week Daddy is going to move to his new apartment and I will stay here with you. In one month, we are going to put our house up for sale.” You can even consider making a visual calendar for them so that they can see what is coming and when it will happen. This will help to put their mind at ease, and make them feel more prepared rather than blindsided.
- Take Them To A Therapist
It is extremely important for kids to be able to process their emotions. Though allowing them to vent at home is certainly helpful, it is best to take them to a licensed therapist or counselor for the duration of your divorce. This can help to ease the transition, and give them a constant during a time with a lot of change. The therapist will help them process the events safely and in a healthy way, and set the groundwork for healthy emotional coping mechanisms in the future.
- Remind Them That You Love Them
This may feel cliché, but it does help children to know that their parents’ divorce does not mean that they are not loved. Try to remind them frequently that you love them and are available to talk if they want to.
- Seek Out Peers With Divorced Parents
Chances are, at least one child in your child’s class has divorced parents. If your child is friends with them, organize play dates. Having a peer that has gone through the same event can really help your child to feel normal and supported. They may even gain reassurance that everything will turn out okay when they see that their peer is doing alright despite the divorce.
- Create Rituals And Routines
Of course, your entire life will be in flux while you negotiate and finalize your divorce. You may be searching for an apartment or new home, and you will have to navigate the arduous process of moving. However, try to create routines wherever you can. These routines can be as simple as brushing your teeth as a family and reading a book before bed.
However, it can be helpful to create some fun rituals too. For example, declare that Fridays are pizza and movie nights. Begin this routine before anything has changed, and continue it no matter where you are living or what is going on. This consistency is soothing to children and adults alike, and gives them a sense of normalcy.
- Be Patient With Your Kids And Yourself
Remember that divorce is challenging for everyone. Give yourself space to make mistakes, and understand that there is no perfect way to navigate the process. Patience with yourself and patience with others is key.
Contact Stange Law
If you are beginning the divorce process, it is important that you have a family law attorney to represent you. Our team at Stange Law has been representing citizens of Bloomington, IL for many years. We understand the challenges you are facing, and we are here to help you through the process.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation with our firm, please contact us online today.