Sometimes, when they find themselves in the turmoil of a failing marriage, people can lose sight of priorities. Whether the divorce is amicable a la Gwyneth and Chris’s conscious uncoupling, or altogether messier and less civilized, the emotional pain is always there. It’s easy to get caught up in your own feelings and forget about the most important part of the equation: the children. Divorce can be tough on kids, and even leave permanent emotional scars if the parents fail to protect them. And by protection, we don’t mean you should hide and sugarcoat. Here are some strategies that will help your kids go through divorce with minimal consequences.
Talk is not cheap
No matter if your kid loves to babble, or if they are shy and reserved, they are sure to have questions about this new situation. You should make sure there is an open communication channel at all times. A lot of the time, break-ups can be confusing for adults too, let alone children. You don’t need to go into details of what exactly went wrong, and under no circumstances should you use your kid to vent about your soon-to-be ex’s faults, flaws and indiscretions. Bad-mouthing your spouse in front of the kids is a move that can only lead to problems, and doesn’t benefit anyone. How you should break and explain the news will depend on the age of your children. However, what all kids need to know is that the divorce is by no means their fault, that both their parents still love them, and that they are free to still love both mom and dad without taking sides or feeling guilty.
Model a civilized behavior
When it comes to raising children, words come second to actions. As much as we tend to talk, advise, preach and praise, we actually teach our children the most by modeling desired behavior. In case of divorce, that means that we are setting an example for our kids in terms of romantic relationships, gender dynamics, and especially civilized behavior. Being dignified and resolving all issues in a peaceful, fair and polite manner not only gives the kids some comfort in the uncertain times they are going through, but also shows them how to communicate and resolve conflicts in a positive way. If you are unsure how to proceed, experienced law firms from Sydney might help you by mediating and providing useful advice, which will also lower any possible tension.
Once you have definitely decided to get divorced, your children’s world will probably turn upside down. Everything they’ve known and taken for granted about their family life will change. Custody arrangements, new homes, maybe even new parents or siblings – these are all the things that suddenly come into play and challenge their notion of the world. In short, their lives suddenly become something unknown and strange. Kids can lose a sense of security in these situations, and providing structure and good organization can help them regain it. If you are having a tough time yourself, lean on your support network, like family and friends for support. Talk to your spouse and make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to putting the kids first. Work out a schedule – who has the kids on what days, who is picking them up from school and taking them to after-school activities, when they are spending their free time with each parent. Having a clear schedule will give them some structure and clarity in an otherwise tumultuous time.
Nobody enjoys divorce, but if done right, it can be a relatively painless transition. Bear in mind that kids have limited tools to deal with it and comprehend such complex emotional situations, and it is our job to guide them and protect them.