Arizona ranks 13th in divorce in the United States, meaning nearly 1 in 4 families will go through the divorce process. Several of these families involve minor children, and how they cope has a lot to do with how the parents handle the separation. Kids are resilient and will learn to accept the changes, however parents have a big responsibility in directing how the process goes.
Kids will react differently based on their age, personality, upbringing and support system. Parents, while it is a difficult time for them as well, can support their children in several ways. Here are 12:
- Do your best to not have arguments in front of the kids. This includes both those you have with your spouse and communications you have with friends or family about your spouse.
- Do you best to not speak poorly about your children’s parent in front of them. Kids understand they are part of both parents, even if they have a stronger connection with one. When a parent is talked about poorly, a child can feel isolated and like they have to pick sides.
- Keep the children’s routines as normal as possible. Likely schedules will change as parenting plans are put into place, however keeping a steady routine, and communicating changes, will help the kids have a sense of control.
- As long as it is safe to co-parent, both parents are important for the kid’s lives.
- Get support for yourself, whether counseling or friends, and don’t expect your kids to be that for you.
- Be sure to let the kids know the divorce is not their fault. Let them know of your decision to separate in a way that matches their maturity level.
- Answer questions for them when they are ready. If they are emotional, they may not hear the other things you are saying, so plan on giving time for questions then or later.
- Help them understand what changes they can expect and what will stay the same. They may experience fears about moving, changing schools, or even who they will live with.
- Answer questions honestly, and if you don’t know, say so.
- Understand that if you have more than one child, they won’t likely all respond the same way. One may feel relief while another feels sadness or even grief. It is a big change for them, just as it is for you. Remember that even though it is difficult for you and emotionally charged, they have fewer coping strategies and will look to you for comfort and safety.
- Reassure them that their feelings are OK and that you are available to them. Remind them it is not their fault (this is a natural belief so several reminders of this are encouraged).
- Consider outside help such as professional counseling for you, your children, or both. Some schools offer programs for children of divorce that allow for sharing of feelings and support.
If you are considering a divorce or separation in Arizona and you have children, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you through the process to ensure fair, safe, and cost effective outcomes.