One of the first questions a separated couple asks is “how do I tell my kids we are getting a divorce.” It is one of the most painful conversations you’ll have. If you’re contemplating getting a divorce, it’s crucial to talk to your kids about divorce before they hear it from other people. Imagine how upsetting it would be to hear it from a family friend or another adult. Kids will probably remember this conversation, what you say, when, and where you say it. Going through a divorce with children is difficult, so it’s best you and your spouse work together when informing your kids about your decision.
How Do You Transition Children Through Divorce?
When preparing for a divorce the first conversation is only the first step. Even if your kids insist they’re well and don’t want to talk, give them opportunities to express their feelings and thoughts. Make it easy for them to express their feelings. It’s okay to admit that you, too, are sad and scared. Being vulnerable might help them reveal their feelings.
Allow Your Children to Process their Feelings
Kids will go through a range of emotions, some reasonable, others not. Thus, you and your spouse must understand that your kids have feelings they need to express. It may be hard to hear your child say, “I hate you” or “it’s all your fault.” don’t try to argue or reason your child out of these accusations, which might be accompanied by tears and tantrums. The child is only expressing themselves the only way they know, and you should allow them to do so.
Taking one for the team might seem unfair to a parent who has dealt with infidelity, indifference, or even abuse. However, the kids hardly get a fair deal during a divorce. You can help your kids cope with their anger, but their emotions need an avenue for expression. It’s also essential to avoid blaming or diminishing the other parent in front of the children because this will only cause more confusion. Thus, shelter your kids from exposure to conflict between you and your ex.
Help Your Children Deal with the Trauma of You Getting a Divorce
Divorce increases many behavioral and academic risks for kids. Thus, you must know this even as you deal with your own trauma. You may be so confused and overwhelmed with your anger and bitterness, and so you may not be fully aware of the grief and loss your children are experiencing. The more intense the conflict between you and your spouse, the more kids might be at risk. Thus, avoid arguing in front of the children and put up a united front for the sake of your children.
When you express contempt and anger against your ex, this will make it difficult for your children to trust either parent. Asking your kids to take sides or reveal private information about the other parent puts them in a difficult position of making adult decisions that they don’t possibly understand. Your kids need to feel safe with both of you, even though you’re living apart.
Creating Two Homes
Post-divorce the changes in the living arrangement can have a negative effect on children. If the non-custodial parent remains close, your child can adapt readily to having two households. You and your ex-spouse should be equally involved in your child’s life by attending school and sports events, family meetings, and holidays.
However, if the non-custodial parent moves far away, it’ll be hard to communicate. Although parent and child can still communicate via Zoom or Skype, the bond between the non-custodial parent and the child will be difficult to maintain. This is especially true if your child is angry and the non-custodial parent doesn’t stay in touch. In that event, the custodial parent should encourage continuous communication between the child and the non-custodial parent.
Even if you do not have custody remaining in your children’s lives makes it easier for them to adjust during this difficult time. It’s easy for kids to adapt to different parenting styles. Regardless of the hatred between you and your ex, you must remain a parental team.
Understand What Your Kids Are Going Through
While you and your former spouse are going through a myriad of emotions, it’s crucial to understand that your children will experience the divorce differently. While you may feel a mixture of anger, relief, or betrayal; confusion and fear may overwhelm your kids. The questions going through their minds will be, who will take care of me? Do Dad and Mom still love me? They will need a ton of reassurance from both of you to feel safe again.
While you need to help your kids express their feelings, be aware that their normal behavior might change. Keeping to a daily routine can help them adapt more quickly. Following divorce or separation, some parents try to ease the divorce process by allowing behavior they ordinarily would not. After all, your children are going through a lot. They will probably act up but insist on appropriate behavior. That’s a way of maintaining old habits.
As a parent, you may be subconsciously hoping that by not disciplining, you will become the “better” parent. But enforcing discipline is a part of the children’s routine. They may argue, but they feel more secure if they know what is expected of them.
Working Together as Parents
Your marital circumstance has changed, but your role as parents remains the same. You need continuous communication regarding the children. The custodial parent should inform the absent parent of what is happening in the kid’s lives.
Avoid the blame game and don’t revisit old issues. If your ex were perfect, you would still be married. So, there is no need to rehash old conflicts when he or she forgets to come to an important family event. If this is how your ex-spouse acted before the divorce, there is no reason to expect them to have changed.
How Does Divorce Affect a 6-Year-Old?
6- to 8-year-olds have little ability to think and talk about how they feel. School-aged children may show their distress, including anxiety, anger, fear, or sadness, and some may display clear-cut signs of missing their absent parent. Some may fantasize about reconciliation and wonder what they can do to make it happen. Often, children who think they can bring their parents back together, or blame themselves for the divorce, have a difficult time getting on with the healing process. These children need to understand that those are adult decisions which they can’t influence.
As a parent, it’s essential to note that stable care and routines are crucial during this devastating time. Approaching the divorce topic indirectly can also help kids this age to get through the daunting time. Thus, saying, “some children feel sad, angry, or even afraid when their parent’s divorce,” is less threatening than asking, “Are you sad?”
Further, books about divorce can help your kids focus on their feelings.
Contact an Experienced Colorado Family Law Attorney for Legal Advice!
Ending a marriage is never easy. However, many people, including children, have to deal with the aftermath of divorce. We hope that you and your family don’t have to go through a divorce, but if you need our legal services, the divorce attorneys at Brighter Day℠ Law are prepared to help you through this difficult legal process. Our team of dedicated and experienced family law attorneys will work tirelessly to make sure you have the best possible outcome in this difficult life situation. To schedule your initial consultation, contact a Colorado Springs family law attorney today at (719) 225-4443, or chat with us online to learn how we can help.