Children and Divorce: How to Help Your Child Work through Your Marital Breakup
Divorce is hard for families. Amid discussions of property division, alimony, new living arrangements, and changing relationships, children can feel like they have lost control of their lives. This can lead to feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, and even regret and guilt for some children. During this difficult time, your children need your support more than ever. Be there for them as you and your spouse work through your divorce and move forward with your changed lives.
There are lots of ways a parent can help his or her child through the divorce process. You know your children best and some of these methods can be altered depending on your children’s ages and your family’s individual situation.
Discuss Your Divorce in an Age-Appropriate Way
As soon as you and your spouse begin the divorce process, take the time to discuss your plan with your children. Do this in a calm, distraction-free space such as your family room or kitchen table. Your children will be as affected by your divorce as you and your spouse, so do not keep them uninformed about it until the last minute. Do not give your children more information than they can handle, but do give them enough information to understand the situation.
Maintain the Normal Routine
This can be difficult amid meetings with your attorney and other professionals, but do your best to keep your children’s routine as regular as possible. That means that if your child is involved in scouting or youth sports, keep him or her involved with this activity. A divorce can feel chaotic for children, and keeping up the regular routine can help minimize the feelings of chaos. If you need help keeping your children’s schedule on track, enlist a relative or family friend to help.
Encourage Healthy Expression and Discussion of Feelings
Your child might not be immediately forthcoming with his or her emotions regarding your divorce. Remind him or her that he or she can come to you with these feelings, but do not push your child to do so. Allow him or her to express any emotions in a constructive way, such as through art, imaginative play, or an open discussion. Talk about appropriate vs. inappropriate emotional expression and never make your child feel like his or her emotions are invalid or wrong.
Do Not Make Your Child Take Sides
Your child needs both of his or her parents. If your child begins to express preference for you or for your spouse, remind him or her that you both love him or her and you will both always be a part of his or her life. Never try to buy your child’s preference through gifts, money, or relaxed rules. Although your marriage is ending, you and your former spouse are still a team for your children.
Divorce Attorneys in DuPage County
If you are going through the divorce process and want to learn more about how to help your children, contact the Abear Law Office to discuss your concerns with an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney. Our team is here to help you and your family through this difficult transition.