Helping Kids Through Divorce: Top 5 Tips
What can you do to protect and help your kids during a divorce?
Attorney Sarah Paris
- With the Kids: One of the major things you can do when helping your kids through divorce is keeping the communication lines open with your kids. It is essential to keeping tabs on how they are coping with the immense changes in their life. It is not only important to talk to them as clearly as possible about these changes, but it is just as important to listen to what they have to say. Always remember when discussing anything regarding the divorce that you refrain from talking negatively about your spouse or putting the kids in the middle. Give your kids permission to love the other parent and make sure they know that it is not their fault.
- With your Spouse: Yes, despite the divorce process you still have to communicate with your spouse, particularly if you have kids. No matter how upset you may be with your spouse, it is essential to communicate with your spouse regarding the kids FOR your kids. In this day and age, electronic communication makes this process easier and easier and it is highly recommended that you correspond with your spouse via e-mail or text in a respectful manner. Do not fight with your spouse in front of the kids, period.
- Routine is invaluable for kids in providing stability during what is likely to be the most tumultuous period they have experienced at this point in their life. Although many things may need to get adjusted due to changes during a divorce, stick with old routines as much as possible. Keep the parent who has less time with the kids during the week informed of their extracurricular activities; it will benefit you both.
- Most parents are aware that a divorce is an emotional time for their kids in addition to themselves; however it is helpful to try to consider the divorce from the child’s perspective. Try to remember how you felt at the age of whichever child you are considering and how your divorce may appear and feel to you at that age. Kids may view the emotional landscape of your divorce very differently than you expect, which is why it is often stressed to let the child know that the divorce is not their fault. Engage your kids from their perspective and try to open up a discussion that allows them to relate their thoughts and feelings. Try to understand how your child feels.
- For you. If applicable, also for your kids. Oftentimes, unwittingly because parents are so emotionally stressed they vent to or in front of their kids. This is one of the most damaging things parents do to their kids and despite being required by Court rule to take a course regarding parenting which stresses these issues, parents continue to disparage each other in front of their kids. Do not criticize your spouse to OR in front of your kids.
- Yes you are divorcing your spouse because you can no longer get along, but you keep hearing about co-parenting. This incorporates communication with your spouse about your child’s life including routines, health and major incidents and working together despite your differences. As stated before, we now have electronic communication which can make arranging things between your spouse and your kids a great deal easier. Some parents use an online parenting journal to do this. The more involved your spouse is with your kids the more successful they will be at getting through your divorce as emotionally unscathed as possible. Keep each other informed about your child’s health (emotional and physical), routine and major events during their time with you.
We have many resources to assist you in helping your kids through this process such as books, videos, online tools and therapist referrals. Please contact us to learn more: 943-5647.