A divorce is a sad event, no matter which way you slice it. Two people who were once so in love with each other that they pledged undying devotion to one another now just can’t seem to make it work for one reason or another.
Along the way, a loving couple will usually add the miracle of children to the mix; when things go south, they are the ones who can suffer most. Often times, as hard they try, parents have a difficult time knowing how to best parent their children through this ordeal.
Below are three suggestions that might not be the easiest to follow, but will be what’s more beneficial for your children in the end.
Separate Them From the Drama
Divorce is naturally volatile. Think about it. You are taking a covenant, a promise beyond promises, and ripping it in half. There are broken hearts, hurt feelings, and scarred souls on both sides of the fence. Families of the divorced couple usually add to the emotionally charged event, as well. Throw in custody proceedings and you have the recipe for the perfect bomb.
That’s enough stress to drive any adult to several years of therapy. Imagine what it might do to a child. Chances are they have already seen their share of Mom and Dad fighting. They have already figured out on some level, depending on their age, that their parents are no longer going to be together and that home life, as they knew it, is over.
Try not to do things that will add to their stress. Things such as putting the other parent down in front of them, discussing custody or divorce proceedings with them or in front of them, and using them as leverage over the other parent will not only showcase your immaturity to the court but will put undue stress on your child. That stress, in turn, could have an incredible effect on how they see the world and those in it later on in life.
When in the middle of a divorce, it’s extremely tempting not to hold your children to the high standards you have for them. Divorce is tough on everyone involved, especially your children. This often leaves us wondering if we should lighten up a little on the rules.
Now we are not suggesting that you play the part of a socialist dictator and never offer flexibility, but there is a lot in your child’s life that is unstable and changing. Being consistent with rules, schedules, and routines can actually help them keep a better handle on things.
Having that consistency helps them to feel safe and that they will be taken care of no matter what happens. If your child normally gets in trouble for cussing, don’t slack up because the divorce is producing anger they don’t normally deal with.
It is still an unacceptable way to express it. Stand your ground. You should, however, make sure they know that you understand why they did it. It also helps to set the example by not dealing with your stress in that manner, as well.
Be a Listening Ear
No matter what age your children are, they will struggle with the effects of your divorce. They will miss the other parent constantly. Often, they will worry about whether or not they had any fault in the matter. Make sure they know they don’t.
Concern for the struggling single parent and the need to make up for the absent parent by helping will consume a lot of time for most children. Older ones, especially. As much as you will go through, you are still your child’s parent. There will be times you will suffer together. There will be many hurts your child will never be privy to.
With that said, the things they do go through will be big and sometimes they will prove to big for them to carry. Be there for them. Listen, even when they are angry and accusatory. Sometimes, there is nothing more healing than someone who will listen and at least attempt to understand.
Divorce, although necessary at times, is always bad news. Use these tips to help your children navigate through the consequences a little easier.