For children, separation/divorce can be an especially stressful, sad, and confusing time. At any age, kids can feel shocked, angry and/or uncertain about the idea of mom and dad splitting up. At some point, children can even feel guilty, blaming themselves for the problems at home. Although many of these emotions are natural and part of the process, there are also things parents can do to help make the transition easier.
Tell the truth
Kids are entitled to know why the decision has been made to end a relationship and/or marriage but it is important to reach them at their level of understanding. This would mean stating a simple fact like ” We do not get along anymore” rather than take them through complicated emotions.
This may prove to be one of the hardest steps especially when there have been hurtful events, like infidelity, etc but it is essential to show restraint and respect.
Say “I love you”
As you address the fact that some things will be different now and some won’t, reassure that your love for them remains the same. It is a powerful message.
It is great to be able to lean on close friends, family or even a support group about any difficult emotions. Try not to vent these negative feelings to your child/children. It is never too late to build new friendships if you may feel that others are not supportive with your decisions. Whether in group or individual therapy, try to also keep humor and play in your life as often as possible.
The environment, for a kid can feel safer and secure in knowing what to expect next. Continue to observe and enforce rules, rewards etc. Recognizing that some changes, like a different home for the weekend, can be easier to deal with. Other routines like homework, dinner etc will be a constant and there is comfort in the little things.
There are so many tips but these are just a few that I find to be really helpful. If I may add to this, Be Nice. Do not argue in front of your ex, ask to finish the conversation at a later time and if that isn’t possible, drop the convo all together. Use tact and when you have to interact, being polite will set off a great example to your kids. Remind yourself constantly what’s best in the long run? Keeping long-term goals in mind, your independence, your children’s’ physical and mental health may help to deter you from minor issues and emotional outbursts.
It will not be easy but taking into consideration everyone’s well-being and happiness will definitely be worth it.