Thousands of kids deal with the uncertainty of divorce every year. How your kids react to the news will depend on various factors, a large one being how you treat them throughout the process. As a parent, there are many things you can do lessen their pain through this stressful time.
Be clear that your divorce is not about them
Sadly, it’s common for children to feel guilt over their parents break up. Maybe they’ve overheard you arguing about them or think that somehow their behavior contributed to the downfall of your marriage. No matter how you break the news to your kids, that your split has nothing to do with them.
Give them time to process
The announcement of your divorce may come as a huge shock to your kids, give them time to process it. Encourage them to ask questions and talk openly about how they’re feeling. Consider bringing them to a counselor or scheduling family therapy sessions.
Don’t badmouth your ex
Avoid speaking negatively about your ex, especially in front of your children. They deserve to have good relationships with both their parents. Any grievances you have with your ex should remain between the two of you.
Establish new rituals
Do your kids have a favorite meal or activity? Give your kids something to look forward to by making one night a week all about them. Maybe Thursday nights can be kid’s choice for dinner and movie.
Consider adding a pet to the family
Once new living arrangements have been established, consider adding a pet to the family. Cats and dogs are known to be great companions as well as an incredible source of love. Getting a pet won’t erase the fact that things are different now but they can often be a welcomed distraction.
Take care of yourself
Airlines always advise you to secure your own mask before assisting your children with theirs. As a parent, your natural instinct will be to save your children before yourself but in reality it should be the other way around. Self care is crucial and if you’re not taking care of yourself, your kids will notice. They take their cues from you, so do your best to set a good example.
Be open to change
Custody arrangements tend to be one of the biggest stressors in a divorce. What happens if you want to take a vacation or attend a special event with your kids but it’s not your weekend? What if your spouse wants to do the same but it’s not their weekend? It’s important that you and your ex agree to be flexible when it comes to how your time is divided. It might upset you to lose that immediate time with your kids but think about the memories they’ll make and the joy it will bring them.
You’re allowed to feel sad but don’t let your sadness turn into selfishness. Find solace in the fact that your ex is working hard to be a good parent.