Getting a divorce is stressful for everyone involved, including children. Often, parents worry that their divorce will negatively impact their kids or could leave them with emotional problems. Luckily, most children get through a divorce successfully and the majority are able to adapt and adjust to their changing circumstances without issue. In fact, research shows that when children have adequate support throughout a divorce, they are usually no worse off than children whose parents remained married.
When you are considering a divorce, you and your former partner can take steps to make sure the transition is relatively easy for your kids. By minimizing the amount of stress they are under and taking time to address your children’s concerns, you can help ease them through this difficult transition.
How to Tell Your Children
Your children should always hear that you are getting divorced directly from you and your soon-to-be former spouse. While this seems obvious, it is not always as easy as it seems. Sometimes, parents talk about the impending divorce with friends or family members, who may inadvertently let the news slip in front of the children. Once you have made the decision to divorce and are sure that you will not change your mind, plan to speak with your kids first before they hear it from someone else.
When having a conversation with your children about your divorce, it is important to put aside any feelings of guilt, anger, or blame. Be straightforward with your kids, and make sure that they understand that the children understand that your divorce does not have anything to do with them or their behavior. Don’t let any negative feelings toward your spouse impact the conversation, and work to keep the discussion neutral and blame-free.
Be prepared for multiple different reactions and be sure to let your children express their feelings. Some children may have expected the news, while others might be blindsided. The children may not react much at all, or could yell or cry. Regardless of how they behave, make sure that you and your partner acknowledge their feelings and recognize what they are going through.
During the Divorce
Once the divorce is in progress, you and your former partner should work to keep your children’s lives as consistent as possible. Introduce changes in their daily routines gradually rather than all at once. Let children adjust to the idea of major changes, like moving or switching schools, rather than implementing a series of large changes directly after breaking the news of the divorce.
During the divorce, make a commitment with your former partner to be civil in front of the children. Try not to argue or bicker while they are around, and don’t speak ill of your spouse in front of the kids. Phrases like, “Your father always does….” or, “If your mother would just…” will make your children feel like they have to choose between their parents and can add to their stress.
If your children are not adjusting well to the idea of divorce, it may be beneficial to engage the help of an experienced family therapist. While some anxiety, anger, or sadness is normal, acting out in dangerous or extreme ways might necessitate a few sessions with a professional therapist or counselor.
After Your Divorce
Once your divorce is finalized, be sure to continue working with your former partner for your children’s sake. Always put your children’s needs first when it comes to determining holiday schedules, birthdays, or other important events, and be willing to be flexible if schedules have to change.
Finally, when problems do arise between the parents during or after a divorce, it is important to work out issues with that parent directly and out of earshot of the children. Never resort to using the children as messengers between you and your ex—if it is too difficult to speak with your ex on the phone, try using email or other forms of communication which are less personal.
Amicable Divorces Are Possible
The more that parents work together for the sake of the children while divorcing, the easier the adjustment will be. At The Law Office of Jonathan M. Galler, P.A., we understand that you and your spouse will be involved in your children’s lives forever, and want to make sure that your divorce is as painless as possible, for both you and your kids. We want your family to be able to move forward in a happy and healthy way, and we will work to help you get there.
To schedule your appointment with an experienced Florida divorce attorney, or to learn more about your options when filing for divorce, contact us today by calling 561-881-6912.