Helping Your Child Handle Divorce in a Healthy Way
Thousands of homes experience divorce and thousands of kids lose the notion of a happy family each year. How kids react to divorce depends on their age, personality and nature of the divorce process, but every kid will be affected to an extent, even if the divorce is something positive for all parties involved. But if you handle the situation like a professional, your kid might come out of it equipped with a great mechanism to fight stress, anger, frustration and worry. Here are a few tips for helping your child through a divorce.
Tell Them As Soon As You Know
As soon as you finalize your plans and settle everything, sit your kids down and talk about your decision to separate. It’s best to be transparent and to work as a team if possible. Make sure to be calm and reasonable without any feelings of anger, guilt and blame—these should not be reserved for your kids. If you think you’ll get upset, don’t hesitate to practice what you’re going to say beforehand. Your vocabulary should fit the kid’s age, temperament and maturity level, but make sure to explain none of it is their fault.
Be Ready For A Reaction
If you know your kid will be upset by the news, prepare for their reaction. Prepare a few sentences of reassurance to explain that it’s perfectly fine to feel scared and sad. Again, make sure to say things like “Both of us love you very much and we are sorry that we have to separate, but it is for the best for everyone involved”. On the other hand, some kids won’t have an immediate reaction and that’s okay too. It’s not uncommon that the child wants to please parents by acting tough or try to avoid getting emotional. Explain that you can talk when the child feels ready. However, be aware that stress can come out in various ways, so pay attention to their behavior at school and with friends and check on their appetite and sleep schedule.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
Many parents feel guilty so they try to downplay their kid’s feelings to make everyone feel better. While you might be doing that with best intentions in mind, but saying things like “Don’t be sad” tells kids that their emotions are wrong and you can’t handle them. No matter what triggers them, anger, sadness and disappointment are normal human emotions and your child has a right to feel them without worrying they will hurt their parent’s feelings. Once they understand that their feelings are valid, kids will be free to express them and talk about disappointment instead of avoiding it.
Answer Their Questions
Kids are often worried about how their life will change now that their parents are getting a divorce, so expect some questions. Most kids ask things like “Where will I live? Will we move? Where will you guys live? What about the holidays? Can I still go to school and see my friends? Can I still play soccer?” and similar. No matter where you live, the States, Europe or Australia, kids will ask these questions. If you don’t know how to answer some of the questions, you can consult with divorce lawyers and they will explain the new situation to you. Find an experienced family lawyer in Brisbane and you will learn all about the best children situations, best property settlement solutions and other things that might not be clear to you. Once you know your parenting plan, you can start answering your kids’ questions.
Don’t Fight In Front Of Kids
You might have strong feelings regarding your ex, but leave heated conversations for when kids aren’t around. Most kids who didn’t adjust well after divorce were exposed to parental fights. Sure, you don’t have to be best friends with your ex, but you must not fight in front of kids.
Get Other People Involved
Kids need to have reliable, caring adults in their lives. To help with that, try to include loving family members and friends into your child’s life so that they have someone to depend on and give you a little time to breathe. It’s important to take care of your mental healthas well, so you can provide proper support.
Divorce is hard on everyone but if you continue to give love to your kids and try hard to create a healthy living environment, kids will come out of it without any serious consequences.