Even the most amicable divorce is very stressful for the children. Your family unit is the only environment your kids have ever known, and now their universe is breaking.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help children adjust to the new family dynamic.
Communicate the facts
When it is time to talk to your kids about your divorce — preferably before living arrangements have changed — it is better if you can do it with your spouse.
- Plan what you are going to say.
- Keep it simple and to the point. Details can confuse children, especially when they hear a separate story from each parent.
- Be honest and adapt the specifics to suit the children’s ages.
- Be respectful to your spouse.
Most importantly, tell your kids you both still love them.
Understand what they want from you
Child specialists know that kids want both parents to remain an active, positive part of their lives. They do not want to find themselves in the middle of hostility and jealousy, where they feel they must side with one parent or the other. Your children do want to feel important to you; they want you to stay involved in their lives.
Watch for warning signs of deeper trouble
Despite your best efforts, children sometimes take divorce hard. It is not uncommon for them to experience anger, depression or anxiety that lasts for months. Generally, time and talk will resolve most of their issues.
You and your partner need to keep an eye out for these red flags that might signal the need to call on professional help:
- Withdrawal from friends, relatives and school
- Difficulty with concentration and sleep
- Tendency for violent and angry outbursts
- Self-harm like eating disorders or cutting
To ease the strain on your children, family experts suggest that you and your ex maintain structured environments, emotional support, and civil communication. This framework can give your children the stability they need to thrive during and after the divorce process.