Divorce is never an easy process, but it can be particularly difficult when children are involved. This is a new experience for many parents, and they are often unsure of how to deal with the complex emotions their children are experiencing. In this blog, our Columbus divorce attorneys share 5 great tips to help you and your children get through the divorce.
1. YOUR KIDS AREN’T THERAPISTS OR SPIES
One of the worst mistakes parents make in a divorce is using their children as a sounding board. Divorce is a highly emotional process, and there is no shame in talking through these emotions with a therapist or counselor. Your child, however, is woefully unprepared to handle your emotional burden.
It is also important to avoid using your children to spy on or gather information about your ex. Children typically feel “caught in the middle” in these situations, and may become emotionally withdrawn or can start to act out as a result.
2. BE HONEST WITH YOUR CHILDREN
Children may not have the same knowledge and life experience as you, but they still know when something isn’t right. Rather than trying to hide your divorce from your children, you should take the time to sit down with them and be honest about what’s going on. You don’t need to share every detail – keep the conversation simple, in terms they can understand.
3. DON’T FIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR KIDS
Arguing in front of your children can cause them serious emotional harm, and there are numerous psychological studies that back this up. Children often feel like they should “pick a side,” which can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and depression. You may not get along with your ex, but you should make every effort to keep your arguments far away from the kids.
4. MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD KNOWS THEY’RE LOVED
While this seems fairly obvious, it is crucial to reinforce your love for your child during this emotionally turbulent time. This is especially important if your ex is unreliable, such as failing to show up for planned activities and visits. While it can be tough, you should make sure your child knows that it’s okay to love both parents.
5. HELP THEM SHARE THEIR FEELINGS
Children often struggle to understand the complex emotions they experience during a divorce, and you as a parent should help them in this process. It can be very helpful to read an age-appropriate book about divorce with your child, and help them formulate questions they may not have the words for.