“How will the divorce affect the children?”
This is probably the question that keeps divorcing parents awake at night. You may have stayed in an unhappy marriage for longer than you should have because you thought about how a divorce would impact your children. Now that you and your spouse have decided to end the marriage, you’re worried about how the kids will react.
This concern is both normal and to be expected from a parent who wants the best for their children. Unfortunately, there is no way to shield them from the surprise, confusion, and grief they may experience when you finally sit down with them. The good news is that children are resilient, and as you and your spouse continue to act as loving parents and protect them from the more difficult aspects of the divorce process, they will happily adapt to their new circumstances.
Here are 5 tips you can use to ease the transition.
1. Encourage Them to Talk
When you (and ideally, your spouse) inform the children about the divorce, invite them to ask questions. Don’t be surprised if they don’t ask too many questions at first, as they may be trying to process everything you’ve just said. The longer they have time to think about it, the more questions they will have, ranging from “Where will we live?” to “Did we do something wrong?”
Protect your children from divorce anxiety by taking all reasonable steps to make both parents available to answer their questions and constantly reassuring them that they did not cause the divorce and they are still loved.
2. Don’t Vent in Front of Them
When it comes to venting about marital conflicts, the children must be off-limits. Neither parent should badmouth or blame the other in from of the kids and, above all, never ask them to choose sides. Refrain from sharing any bitter feelings to your closest friends and your therapist.
3. Avoid Arguing in Front of Them
Your children should never be exposed to parental conflict. If you and your spouse need to discuss issues involving property division, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance (all topics that can spark arguments or are emotionally driven), do so when there is no chance of being overheard, even accidentally.
4. Present a United Front
Even if you and your spouse have difficulty being in the same room with each other, you can still present a united front as parents. Keep all rules and routines the same between both households, so that the children have a reassuring sense of consistency while they adjust to the divorce and new bedrooms, new homes, and possibly new ….
5. Invest in a Therapist
Arranging for your children to see a therapist could be a huge benefit for them. They will have a neutral party to talk to about the divorce without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings, as well as a safe zone to work through any guilt, anger, or grief. Seeing a therapist yourself can provide an outlet for your own negative feelings, making it easier to avoid accidentally using the children as a sounding board.
If you’re planning to file for divorce in Washington and are concerned about how to help your children understand and cope with this big change in their lives, reach out to us at Bliss Law Group. We understand because we’ve been there, and will work with you to keep your children feeling safe and secure in their parents’ love for them. To schedule a consultation, call us at 253-844-4412.