Witnessing the divorce of parents is a painful event that introduces a monumental change in the life of a boy or girl, regardless of age. Seeing the depletion of love between parents, then the dissolution of marriage, the daily absence of one parent while living with the other and then the adjustment of living in two different households – all of which create a difficult circumstance for family and emotional trauma that one needs to accept and deal with.
Though nothing is easy and simple about divorce, there are some uncomplicated steps parents can do to help children, including adolescents who already face daily disruptive changes on their way to becoming an adult to cope with the emotional repercussions of divorce. The trauma is curable by addressing the significant factors confronting children who experience divorce in the family and following the steps below.
Keep the conflict to yourself
You’re scared, angry and your sadness lingers on you like a bad odor that just won’t go away. You feel your spouse’s infidelity was a form of abandonment of you and your children. You want your kids to know what he or she’s done. They need to know the truth; you reason out to yourself. However, your need for purification is not helping your children.
All the children will perceive is that their father or mother is a bad person and will presume they did something wrong to make him or she wants to leave them. You are thrusting a wedge between the children and their father or mother. It’s something that they will perceive when they get older, and it could spin a particular resentment towards you.
Check your psychological and emotional needs
Your grief, your uneasiness, and feelings of rejection are all normal parts of the divorce process. But, if you don’t acknowledge them, they’ll keep resurfacing even after the marriage is over. When you’re in a state of depression, it’s easy to pull a blanket over your head and stay in fetal position than it is to get out of bed. Don’t do it; you need to get up.
Permit yourself to cease the self-flagellation instead of spending your lunch hour ruminating. Consider speaking to a therapist or someone with some expertise in dealing with families in transition instead of venting to your colleagues which is not a very good idea.
Be respectful to your ex-spouse
It’s not sufficient to refrain from badmouthing your ex-spouse in front of your children. Unless you want your child to suffer the consequences when other people repeat what you’ve said to their children and their children repeat it to your child, you need to make a cooperative effort to speak well of your ex-spouse to third parties.
Your children will see themselves as you and your ex-spouse’s extension. Hence, when you speak ill about your ex-spouse, the children will likely internalize your insults.
Inform your children about the necessary details and skip the drama
If you want to reduce your child’s discomfort, you need to create a united a front. Start by telling him or her about the divorce together. The children may feel that the other party doesn’t care, but you need to let them know.
Set aside your need to assert superiority in the marital category. Prioritize the psychological well-being of your children. Inform them that you and your ex-spouse will still fulfill your duties as a parent together.
Make emphatic decisions
When weighing decisions that could affect the children, start by imagining you’re in the shoes of the receivers end of whatever decision you’re going to make.
Think about what your kids will say to their therapists about their experiences in childhood and about how you protected them during the divorce? Will they be thankful about the decisions you made, or will they regret in which you and your ex-spouse use them as tools in your conflict? Or will they indict you for their inability to trust and the unbounded numbers of failed relationships?
Welcome litigation but always put your family first
You need to discuss with your attorney about the possible avenues for reaching a harmonious resolution such as time arrangement and custody best suited for you and your children. It’s important to have a collaborative process, mediation, negotiation, judicially hosted settlement conference, etc.
You can also speak to a child specialist together with your ex-spouse to help you what kind of parenting schedule would be best for your child. All depending on his or her stage of development and age, proximity to you and your spouse to each other, your family dynamic and important factors including your inclination to preserve a quality relationship with another parent.
Thus, do your research and find out what kind of arrangement is best for your family – for your children instead of wasting your energy in legal battles in hopes of winning the custodial arrangement as your colleague, neighbor or best friend’s cousin’s nephew.
Always make them feel loved
Children by nature crave stability, consistency, and security. Divorce disturbs the balance that they are familiar with, even if it’s unsteady.
They want to know how often they will see each parent, whether they will live with their siblings, where they’re going to live, whether they will attend the same school, and whether the dog they love will share their home. You might not have the appropriate answers yet, but the important thing is that when you answer them, you do so in a truthful, patient and loving way.
The process of divorce is much less traumatizing for children when parents have appropriate support systems in place for each other and the children while maintaining clear boundaries. Ideally, both parents can move on with their lives. Furthermore, children should not have the idealism that they did not lose their family but only changed and that their parents have the best interests for them.