Going through a divorce can be a challenging time for you and your spouse; however, if there are children in the mix, your divorce just may be even more difficult on them. While getting through the hardships of a divorce do come in time, as parents it is in your hands to help them work through it well. While studies about the effects of divorce on children often contradict one another, it is safe to say no matter what, it isn't easy. Here are a few tips to consider when helping your children through divorce as well as life afterwards. And remember, things take time; be willing to walk with your kids no matter what.
First off, you want to make sure that your children understand that the divorce is not their fault. No matter how much fighting there was in the home, even if the yelling was directed at the kids; your crumbling marriage is between you and your spouse, so make sure your kids understand that. It is very easy for children to play the "what if" game in their minds, continually going over what they did wrong in life and how they could have been different; and perhaps how those actions would have kept mom and dad together. Sit down with them, together as parents if possible, and explain that nothing they did or didn't do affected your marriage. Once that is clear, reaffirm your love for each of them and do so regularly throughout the divorce, after the split and for the years to come. Maintaining close relationships with your kids will play a huge role in their growing up to be happy teens and adults.
Next, no matter how much tension there are between you and your spouse do not bad mouth them in front of your children. Remember, no matter how little you care about your ex-spouse, they are still the parent of your children and you will need to interact with them on a semi-regular basis depending on your custody arrangements. Also, this can lead to the kids feeling as though they have to pick sides, or even switch sides depending on which parent they are with. Discuss with your ex that you both respect each other's role as a parent in the children's life, and seek to work together for their sakes, not your own. Remember that in the majority of divorce cases, both parents actually do care about the children, just the marriage didn't work out. You want to do whatever you can to encourage your children to stay close with both of you, because studies show that having both parents in kids' lives is essential if possible.
It is very likely that even though your kids are suffering from the divorce, they will not show these internal struggles. Sit down with them and explain hat is ok to have a hard time with the divorce and that the flood of confusing emotions is natural. Encourage them to talk about these difficulties rather than holding it in and provide a way for them to do so if they want to. First, let them know that each of you are there to talk at all times, and you may also want to give them the opportunity to talk with a religious counselor or therapist in order to work through some of those struggles they are experiencing.
Life is going to be different after the divorce, that's just how it is so don't try to keep every routine in order to make your kids feel "normal." Nothing about this divorce is normal to them, so embrace the change and establish new rituals for you and your kids to enjoy without the other spouse. For example, with the younger children, perhaps have a regular game night together and breakfast for dinner. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it can still be a special bonding time for you to enjoy. In due time you may also want to consider adding another person to love into the home; and by this we mean adding an animal such as a dog. In many cases having a dog around can act as a source of fun for the children as they learn to care for and raise it, while also having a new outlet for their affections.
Lastly, and most importantly you must remember to help yourself through he divorce. As they say when boarding an airplane to place the mask on yourself then your children; the same goes for after a divorce. If you don't take the time to recover from the ending of your marriage it will be very difficult to remain that strong fortress for your kids. Do whatever you need to in order to heal your body and soul. For information about divorce, contact the Scott Mitchell Law Offices today for the Modesto divorce attorney you deserve.