How to Help Your Child Cope With Divorce
Parent’s getting divorced can be a tragic and difficult time for the entire family. For children it can be tough to understand. That, paired with huge living adjustments that divorce brings with it, can make this a very trying experience for children
Things can be very confusing. Remember that you have had time to see this coming and process it somewhat. But your child hasn’t. So, it’s important to keep that in mind.
Break the news gently and together
The best way to let your child know you two will be getting divorced is to prepare it advance and do it together. This will make sure you all are on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings or disputes about this later, whether between you two, or the child and both parents.
Explain why this is happening. Keep this conflict free and simple. Say something along the lines of how mom and dad aren’t happy living with each other because of disagreements, and would like to live separately.
There is of course, no easy way to do this. But ensure that you don’t say anything that might lead them to hope for a reconciliation.
Offer reassurance and talk about feelings
Children tend to blame themselves for how their parents behave. Upon hearing about your divorce, your child might think he caused it. It’s important to state that its not his fault and that you both love him very much. Again, a quick explanation for why this is happening will aid this process. Saying it once isn’t enough. Continue to address this gently over time (before and after the divorce).
Your child may or may not immediately react. Children often repress emotions because of shock or because of the fear of aggravating the situation. But it’s your job to make sure you let him know you’re here either way. And anything that he is feeling is perfectly normal.
Discuss living arrangements
This drastic change might severely disturb your child. It’s best to prepare him for all the changes that are coming beforehand. Who will pick him up from school? Which days will he be spending with which parent? Don’t forget to discuss weekend and holiday arrangements.
Introduce him to the space the parent that is moving out will be living in. Show him his room or bed. Allow himself to familiarize himself with it. This will make the transition easier.
Avoid any display of conflict in front of your child
Watching parents fight can be one of the most traumatic things for a child. This is can create a toxic environment for the child and might even result in anxiety, PTSD, and other mental disorders.
While verbal and physical aggression is the main focus here, this also includes legal battles. Keep your child out of those as much as you can.
Also try your best to maintain civil and friendly communication between parents. Children pick up on tension. This can cause them a lot of anxiety and lead them to blame themselves. Remember not to badmouth each other and drag your child into any conflicts. It can pressure him into picking sides, making the whole thing very unhealthy process.
Children are the biggest casualties of any divorce and it’s important to realize how deeply it can affect them. Treat the situation as delicately as possible.