25 Jul Preparing Your Child for Divorce
How to Prepare and Support Your Child Through a Divorce
Are you and your spouse on the verge of a separation or divorce? Worried about the impact this will have on your children? The situation is already a challenging time and the stress and guilt of worrying about your children can make it even more overwhelming and scary. Here are some of the best ways you can help prepare your child for this transition.
First off, it’s very important for parents to understand it is totally normal for kids to experience periods of shock, anger, sadness, anxiety, and guilt. Others may seem completely fine and not affected at all; suppressing any emotions they’re feeling. Every child will experience their own reactions and take their own amount of time needed to process this huge loss and adapt to the new lifestyle. What’s important is that you are understanding of their mixed emotions and fears, and are there to support them through it.
I have seen the impact a divorce can have on kids both personally and professionally. My parents separated when I was 10 and I grew up with good friends whose parents divorced. I also have extensive experience working with children coming from divorced families. Reflecting on all those experiences I am grateful my parents worked so hard to maintain a healthy friendship and parental bond for my benefit. I have seen the good and bad impact the relationship parents maintain throughout a separation can have on a child. So here are some tips from my personal experience as well as what I have seen in my practice.
- Kids are SMART. Most of the time they already knew things we’re not going well. Be honest, appropriate to age, but cautious to not divulge too many dirty details.
- When breaking the news, do it together. Be prepared to answer questions like who will I live with? Where will I go to school? Where will we spend holidays?
- NEVER make children the middle man. You and your spouse need to communicate directly to each other.
- Do not speak poorly or disrespectfully of your spouse in front of your child. This person is their Mother or Father and the conflicts between you two should not impact the parent-child relationship.
- Maintain some consistency in your routine.
- Encourage and support the time your child spends with the other parent.
- Don’t change your parenting style due to guilt.
- Notify the school and ask for extra support. Often kids will display negative reactions not just at home but at school.
- Be a positive role model. Your child is watching how you cope and manage your emotions. It’s extremely important you take care of yourself. Counseling is beneficial for both of you and if you are willing to meet with someone your child will often be open to it as well.
Please remember to be gentle with yourself. This is a tough transition for all of you and it will take some trial and error to figure out this new lifestyle. You’ll make mistakes and feel overwhelmed at times. It’s important to acknowledge your children’s feelings and be as supportive and patient as possible. Remind them that in the end even though sometimes adults change the love they have for each other, that never changes the love between a parent and child.
Kristen Ford, MA LMFT, is a Marriage and Family Therapist. She is currently in private practice at Coastal Counseling. If you would like to make an appointment with Kristen, please call 1-888-470-4415.
Disclaimer: This blog and the information herein are for educational and informational purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional psychological or therapeutic services. The self-help information provided by this blog are solely the opinion of the bloggers and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. Instead, the information is designed to be used in conjunction with ongoing treatment provided by a mental health professional. Use the information in this blog at your own risk. All of the information is provided “as-is,” with no warranties of any kind, express or implied.