Getting a divorce can be a stressful event for the spouses involved, but many people worry most about how their children will handle it. While it may be worse for people to stay together because they think it will be good for their children, divorce can still be difficult for kids to deal with. Most parents want only what is best for their children, whether they are married to the other parent or not.
If you are a parent getting a divorce, you may have many questions about the best way to guide your kids through it. Fortunately, experts have plenty of advice for parents here in Texas and elsewhere on navigating divorce with children. As with most things, no two divorces will look the same.
How do I handle telling them about the divorce?
Some parents assume that their children don’t know that problems in the marriage exist, but that is not always true. Experts recommend honesty and, if possible, for both spouses to tell them together. As for when to tell them, ideally it would happen before actually filing for divorce, as the entire process can take time to complete. Parents who have children with large age differences often wonder if they should have separate conversations with them, but experts say that one child could feel resentful at not being told first.
How to I handle my kids’ reactions to the divorce?
Experts say that some of the most common questions kids have regarding divorce have to do with what their lives will look like after their parents part ways. The best strategy is to work immediately with your spouse to determine a plan for co-parenting, if that is possible. If any details are uncertain, you can be honest with your kids and make sure that you keep them up to date on any developments or changes. This can include living arrangements, schedules for custody and anything pertaining to a new home.
Some children fear that they caused their parents’ divorce, so it may be a good idea to make it clear that that isn’t the case. While you may not want to give children too much detail about the precise reasons for the end of the marriage, you can explain to them that many marriages end this way. Therapy may be a good idea for everyone, especially if there are any matters that you and your ex cannot agree upon. A therapist can serve as an impartial third party.
What do I tell them about my ex-spouse?
It can be tempting to tell children negative details about your ex, but doing so can easily backfire. Kids can struggle with their love and loyalty to both parents, so it is imperative that you always try to speak respectfully about your ex when your children are around and encourage family to do the same. It can be difficult, but it is crucial to keep your emotions in check around them.
Divorce can be difficult for parents even in the best of circumstances. It may be beneficial to utilize the services of a family law attorney, who can not only assist you with the legal end of the process but could also make recommendations for other professionals that can help you and your family. This way, you and your spouse can move on while keeping your children a mutual priority.