Divorce is an unfortunate part of life for many families. It’s never easy and no one really expects it to be. However, it is often the hardest on the people who have nothing to do with it.
For kids, divorce can be confusing. Many children wonder if it means that their parents love them less. It’s possible that they will think that their parents didn’t see any reason to try. As you can imagine, divorce causes a lot of damage to a child, young or old. Because parents are so busy fighting or deciding who gets what, their children’s needs can get ignored, though not on purpose.
Parents need to be open with their children. If the divorce seemingly came out of nowhere, the child will have a lot of questions. Answer their questions. Allow them to get angry and even shocked. It is likely that you both have dealt with much of the shock and have moved onto anger or even acceptance. Let them grieve. Although anger is a natural emotion in a situation such as this, don’t let it create a barrier between you and your children. One of the most important things a divorcing couple can do is reassure their children that they love them.
Let them know that the divorce has nothing to do with them. Be straightforward about the things that will change, and be sure to acknowledge that your love for them won’t. Although it is important to be honest, remember to only share as much as they can handle. You don’t need to go into all the nasty details, nor do you want to.
Even though you may be feeling everything but love toward your spouse, avoid pointing fingers or starting a fight during this discussion. Plan out what you are going to say together and be sure to use “we” instead of “he” or “she.”
Hearing negative things from one parent about the other can make your child feel as though he or she should pick sides. Avoid venting to them about the situation. While you don’t want to put a Band-Aid on the emotions, you don’t want to drag your kids into the middle of it. Talking is fine; in fact, you should take this opportunity to be open with them. Bashing on the other parent is a different story.
Divorce involves separating yourself from your spouse, not your children. Everyone will likely experience a variety of emotions. Spend some extra time together, assure the children over and over that you love them, and help each other through this emotional time.