Divorce is something your children are probably familiar with from school or family. They likely have a friend or cousin whose parents have already divorced. However, that doesn’t make it easier to go from “I know someone whose parents are divorced,” to “It’s my parents getting divorced.” Parents have a responsibility to help their children process their emotions, concerns, and questions in a divorce with kids. When done correctly, it can ease children into the transition and make it easier for them to cope and move forward when the ink dries on the decree.
Allow your children to communicate their feelings. Some children are vocal in their complaints and concerns, while others are more reserved and internalize their emotions. It is essential to encourage your child to share their feelings as much as they desire. Allowing them to vocalize their concerns in a conversation, or write you a letter that you can respond to gives their emotions an outlet. Honest communication strengthens their trust that “everything’s going to be ok.” Further, it would help if you treated everything they share with you with the same level of secrecy afforded to you under the rules of attorney-client privilege.
It is imperative to consider everything your child says or writes as legitimate. You may not agree, and there may be information the child doesn’t know that is influencing how they feel. It doesn’t matter; if your child feels it, you want to validate their feelings. You should never respond in a manner that will create conflict or drag your child into a disagreement between you and their other parent. You want your relationship with your children to blossom, and it will wilt if you don’t take the high road. Thus, it would be best if you never blamed the other parent, give your child salacious details about their parent’s behavior, or say/do anything that would affect their feelings about the other parent.
Building a support network is an essential component of helping your children cope with divorce. Family, friends, church members, and social groups give your child outlets where they can share their feelings, process their emotions, and, quite frankly, focus on something other than the divorce for a while if they desire. Keeping your children engaged with people who exert a positive influence on their life is one of the most effective ways of helping them cope.
Similarly, build your support network. Parents benefit immensely from discussing their problems, concerns, and grievances with counselors, therapists, and friends. Remember, you can’t help your child if you are struggling to process your emotions, too. Your children need to see you as a stable rock they can look up to and lean on when they need it. The stronger your support network, the more effective the support you can provide your children.
Your custody arrangements will establish a routine. It would be best if you considered this routine sacred, and it should not be adjusted unless it is necessary. Make sure that you are prompt when picking up/dropping off your child, attend all the events you say you will, pay the expenses you say you are going to pay, etc. Be available. Be present. Be a parent. If you live by this motto, your divorce with kids will go a lot smoother for everyone.
Contact Simon Law Group, PLLC at (480) 462-6049, to learn more about what you can expect in a divorce with kids. Our team will help you prepare for the process and recommend resources that can help you prepare yourself and your children for the challenges ahead.