How To Keep Your Children Happy During A Divorce
While it is undeniable that divorces are challenging for kids of all ages to handle, the good news is that there is a lot that parents can do to make sure their children feel supported during the process. Talk to your kids about your divorce in a calm and non-blaming way. Explain to them how the changes will impact their life.
1. Make Time For Them
Kids can be particularly sensitive to divorce and separation. They can feel confused, withdrawn or even regress in their development. Preschoolers (ages 2 to 5 years) are especially prone to this. These children are too young to understand what’s happening and are more likely to blame themselves for the change. Many of these behaviors will dissipate over time as they learn to cope with the change. You’ll need to provide them with extra time, support and open communication to help them deal with this difficult situation. You’ll also need to make your home a place they feel comfortable in and can return to as easily as possible. That means making sure you have their toothbrushes, clothes, toys and books in both locations.
2. Talk To Them
Divorce can be a complex issue for kids, and it’s important to communicate to them how they’re feeling. They’ll be experiencing a range of emotions, including anger, sadness, numbness, and other similar reactions. Keep in mind that your children’s age and maturity level can influence how much you share with them about your divorce. Here are some general guidelines for addressing the subject with your kids: First, you need to let them know that their parents’ marriage has failed. That’s something they can’t control, but it’s not their fault. Second, you need to make sure they know they’re still loved by both of you. That means you’re not going to stop loving them and they won’t stop being your child, no matter what happens in the future. It’s also important not to point fingers at their former parent. That’s not healthy. If your child sees you arguing with their parent, it can reinforce the belief that they’re at fault for your separation.
3. Keep Them Involved
Keeping your kids involved and interested can help them feel like they’re not being left out or treated unfairly. This is especially true for younger children. Reassure them that you love them both equally and explain how they will spend their time with each parent. For example, they will spend some weekends with mom and other nights with dad. Don’t hide anything from them about your ex. It’s best to keep your relationship with your ex as open and honest as possible for the sake of their emotional well-being. It’s also a good idea to make sure your kids are getting plenty of sleep, healthy meals and adequate physical activity. Having these things will help them maintain a sense of normalcy and ease their feelings of grief.
4. Don’t Blame Them
Kids can feel confused or unsure about the situation, but they deserve to know that their feelings are normal and that you respect them. It’s also important to not blame your children for the divorce, as this only exacerbates their feelings of uncertainty and sadness. Instead, focus on teaching them how to handle their emotions with maturity. This will give them the skills they need to get through a difficult time. Don’t overshare details about your marital problems, even if you need to vent. Oversharing can lead to negative feelings that children aren’t equipped to deal with, and can damage your relationship with them in the long run.