A big challenge with divorce is when parents feel conflict and stress, their children do as well. Any effort to hide conflict will likely put your kids in the dark and build resentment.
It is difficult to navigate divorce with children. But you can minimize mistakes and impacts by being honest. Here are tips to help your kids adjust to divorce.
Manage conflict: You are getting divorced, so, of course, there will be conflict. The trick is to manage it with communication rather than discord. Talk things through and put your children’s feelings first. Kids are resilient and will make it through this as long as they know you and your spouse are working on the issues.
Do not disparage: Despite your feelings for your spouse, your children still love them. Also, you will be co-parenting and need to do so effectively. Do not insult, disparage, or share negative feelings about the other parent. That only causes more stress and torn loyalties.
Discuss difficult issues out of earshot: Kids under seven often feel at fault for the conflict. If they overhear conflict-driven conversations, that drives that fear. Reassure kids they are not at fault and save these conversations when they are out of the house. It also helps if you and your spouse develop a mutually agreed story on why you are separating. Kids feel more secure if they are not hearing multiple versions of why you seek a divorce.
Respond with empathy: Your kids will have questions, and some of them may be uncomfortable. Calm any triggered emotions arising from questions, and validate your children’s feelings. Let them know it is OK to feel sad or anxious, then help them talk it out and manage it.
Mediation makes divorce easier on children. To learn more about mediation and its advantages, contact the experienced Cape Cod divorce mediator at Falmouth Mediation.