Friday 27 May 2016

How to Help Your Children Cope with Your Divorce

Divorce and separation are hard on a couple, but they're also very difficult for the kids. Their parents splitting up can rock their whole world. Many children struggle to understand, especially if they're younger. They can have all kinds of feelings about what's happening and act out in different ways. Sometimes it can be a struggle even to tell your kids about the divorce. Many parents don't know what to say or how to say it. If you're feeling unsure about how to help your children cope, there are lots of strategies you can use. Start with the advice below to handle everything as sensitively as you can.

From Pixabay

What to Tell Them
The first thing to determine is what you are going to tell your children. How much detail should you go into? Does it matter who did what? And how can you make sure younger children understand what is happening? Your core message is clearly that their parents won't be together anymore, and probably that one of them will no longer live at home. However, you don't want that to be your only message. They need to know other important things too, like that you still love them, no matter what. There are also things they don't need to know, like whose fault it is. It's important to tell the truth and explain what will change, but avoid blaming each other. Many parents pick something simple, like saying that they don't get along anymore.

How to Tell Them
It's not just what you say that's important, but how you say it too. For example, some parents choose to tell older children first. However, this can be a bad idea because the older child then has the burden of keeping a secret. The younger child can feel they weren't being treated equally when they later find out. Even if you're struggling to get along with each other, try and present a united front to your children. Plan out your talk before you go ahead with it to agree what you're going to say. Try to be respectful of each other, even if you're currently feeling resentment towards them.

Offering Support and Explanations
After the initial conversation, your work isn't over. Your children still need you to support them and help them. They might have lots of questions they want to ask, either right away or later. It's best to try to answer their questions as best you can, rather than try to ignore them. They don't want to feel like they're being left out of everything that's happening. While there are some things they don't need to know, you shouldn't brush off their feelings with platitudes. You should be prepared to acknowledge their pain and help them when they're confused.

From Pixabay

Making the Process More Comfortable
Divorce is a process and doesn't happen in an instant. Sometimes, it can seem to children that their parents' divorce is dragging on forever. It's sure to make you feel like you're in a tense state of limbo, so they are likely to feel the same. For both their sake and yours, try not to drag out the divorce proceedings. That may be hard to do if your spouse is difficult, but sometimes you need to be the bigger person. It's also important to remember to act maturely. Many parents forget to be an adult during a divorce, but your kids don't want to see you arguing or being petty.

Dealing with The Legal Side
Child custody is one of the contentious issues involved in getting divorced. Ideally, the parents should be able to make arrangements for their children together. Sometimes, you might need some help working things out. A family law service like Bannister Preston can help to mediate so you can reach a decision. If you cannot mediate the situation out of court, you might need to get a judge to decide. The role that your child should play in all this can be confusing. While many want to let their child have a say, they ultimately don't always understand what it best for them. It can also be too much pressure to ask them to make a choice. Having input is best left for teenagers, but even then they might be confused or later change their mind. Mediation is often the best route to choose.

As well as supporting your children as much as possible, you should recognise when they need extra help. Sometimes it can be worth seeking out a therapist to help them deal with the divorce.

Jada x


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