A parent going through a divorce must contend not only with the devastation of their marriage ending but also safeguarding their children's emotions. While it may be unrealistic for you to expect to be able to completely insulate your children from the divorce, it is possible to minimize the stress this process can place upon them.
Look at Things from Their Perspective
When parents divorce, children are placed in the position of having to adapt to being part of a divided family. They must also endure being exposed to the conflict between their parents. Children may react to this change and increased stress in a variety of ways. For example, younger children who are less equipped to process what is happening may exhibit negative behaviors or become fearful to sleep alone. Older children, who are more aware of what is occurring, may feel that the divorce is their fault or that they could have kept it from happening. This is a time to pay close attention to your children's reactions and talk to them about any beliefs or thoughts they may have. By knowing where they are emotionally, you can help them work through their responses as they adjust to their new situation.
Reduce Conflict When You Can
When you and your former partner can minimize hostility between yourselves, you will be taking a critical step towards reducing stress for your children. Although it may not be reasonable to expect to get along completely, you can decide as a pair not to disparage one another in the presence of the children. You can also make a joint effort to reassure your children that you both love them and that they are not to blame for the divorce.
Be Careful What You Say
When children hear their parents make harsh comments about each other, they tend to internalize the criticism. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of the fact that children are often listening even when parents think they are doing something else. Keep conversations about the divorce or your former partner out of the children's hearing. No matter what has happened during your marriage, the children are depending on both of you to show respect for one another. They are also looking for signs that you will both continue to be a source of support and stability in their lives. When they see cooperative and respectful behaviors from you both, it will provide them with the comfort they need during this difficult time.
In the end, how the divorce is handled will have a direct impact on your children during the process and into the future. While it is undeniable that your children will be affected by the changes divorce brings, it is possible to get through a divorce while protecting your family. By choosing to go through your divorce in a manner which prioritizes their well-being, you will help create a healthier family dynamic going forward.
At the Draper Law Firm, we have attorneys who are experienced with helping families go through a divorce and can provide the guidance and support you need. We are here to help. Please, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We invite you to learn more about our firm here.