If you have been thinking about ending your marriage and you have children, you may be unsure how to help them navigate this difficult time. Strong support and love from parents during a divorce can help preserve your child’s well-being.
Review these strategies to help prepare your child for the life changes that will occur with a divorce.
Have an honest conversation
After you and your spouse decide to divorce, tell your kids about the news in a straightforward, age-appropriate way. You should talk to your children together if possible. Remain calm and avoid addressing your own emotions behind the divorce, such as anger, guilt and blame. Instead, stress that although you will live in separate households, you both love them very much. Answer questions candidly but do not feel the need to discuss the reasons for the split in detail.
Consider family therapy
Some kids take the news of their parents’ divorce in stride, while others struggle with feelings of sadness, anger and confusion. If you find your child is in the latter category, consider scheduling a session with a child and family therapist. This trained professional can help your child work through these emotions and explore coping strategies.
Create a new routine
Children do best with structure and boundaries, so the days and weeks following the separation should not feel like a free-for-all. While everyone will experience some bumps in the road, you should make sure your kids have a regular schedule at each house with clear expectations for behavior, chores and school work.
These three steps can help you guide your child through divorce and enhance his or her feelings of safety and security at this sometimes-scary time.