One out of every two marriages today ends in divorce and many divorcing families include children. During this difficult period, parents may be preoccupied with their own problems, but continue to be the most important people in their children’s lives.
While parents may be devastated or relieved by the divorce, children are scared and confused. Some parents feel so hurt or frustrated by the divorce they may lean on their children for support. Divorce can be confusing to children unless parents tell them what is happening, how they are involved and not involved, and what will happen to them.
Children typically believe the divorce had something to do with them. Many children will try to reconcile their parent’s relationship. Children are affected the most by divorce. In some cases they loose their home, security and the easy access to both mother and father. Talking to children about a divorce is difficult; however it’s important for your child to transition. The following tips can help both your child and you as parents with the challenge and stress of these conversations:
- No surprises! Don’t wait until the last minute. Your children are smarter than you think.
- Effective parenting takes both mother and father so, tell them together.
- Keep it simple
- Let them know that they had nothing to do with the divorce.
- Be honest; let them know that this is not going to be easy for none of you.
- Let your child know that both of you will always love them the same.
- Do not do the blame game. Don’t blame the other parent for the divorce.
Children will do best if they know their mother and father will still be their parents and remain involved with them even though the marriage is ending and the parents won’t live together. Long custody disputes or pressure on a child to “choose” sides can be particularly harmful for your child and can add to the damage of the divorce. Do your best to work out an agreement for custody and assets. Co-parenting (joint custody) is by far the most successful. Research shows that children do best when parents can cooperate and put their differences aside for the best interest of the child.
Parents’ ongoing commitment to the child’s well-being is important. Pay attention to your child during this time. Listen to their questions and concerns. Evaluate changes in your child. If you see drastic changes, you may want to enroll your child in counseling. In addition, the child and counselor can meet with the parents to help them learn how to make the strain of the divorce easier on the entire family. Counseling for your child and you and your soon to be EX, can be helpful with the transition as well as co-parenting.