Tips to Help Ease the Pain or Confusion Divorce Presents
Consistency is key. Be a reliable resource for your kids, whether they need to talk, need help with a school project, or just want you to attend their next soccer game. Children need to feel they are well cared for, and the best way to show that is by reliably having their back. Even if it’s not your weekend with the kids, or you think your ex can handle things on their own, make sure your children know that you are always present if they need something.
Smother with love and support. Now is the time to openly and emphatically express your love for your children. Remind them how loved they are with both words and actions. Do something special for them: quality time away from home can help take their minds off the stress of their parents’ separation.
Equal time with both parents. In order to be fair to your children, both parents deserve equal time if they are both an active part of the child’s life. If at all possible, children will appreciate getting the same amount of time and involvement from both their parents.
Be empathetic about their grief. Expect a range of emotions, and be prepared to handle any reaction your child might throw at you. Reassure kids that the divorce is not their fault – after all, they didn’t choose it or have a say in it. And because they did not choose this divorce, you will not judge them for any feelings they have about it.
Letting your kids choose who to live with? If so, don’t make them feel guilty. It’s a tough situation if you are not the parent your kids choose to live with, but it’s important to respect your child’s decision. On the other hand, if you are the chosen parent, do not under any circumstances rub it in your ex’s face.
Never use your kids as pawns. Whatever you do, do not use your children against your ex, ask them to get information about your ex, or try in any way to negatively affect their relationship with their other parent. Do not expect them to take sides or be a spy for you. If you try to damage your child’s bond with your ex, you’ll end up poisoning your own bond with your child in the long run.
Love your kids more than you hate your ex. Yes, your ex is your ex for a reason, but you two will be tied as long as you have children together. No matter how strong your emotions about your ex may be, just remember how much greater and more powerful your love for your children is. There is no reason that you can’t prioritize your children’s feelings above your own’s.
Be honest. It’s important to be frank with your children during the divorce process. This doesn’t mean telling them the sordid details of why your marriage ended. It means making sure they understand the reality of the divorce and how it will affect their day-to-day lives. You know your kids better than anyone; consider their age and maturity level when deciding how much to reveal about why you and your ex are separating.
Be civil with your ex. This is one of those pieces of advice that’s easier said than done, but it’s in the best interest of your children and your family. It’s in your best interest, too – letting go of anger at your ex will help you stop focusing on the past and on your regrets.
Always keep your promises. Don’t make unrealistic promises or let your kids hope for things that won’t happen. It can be hard to tell your kids that you can’t see them as often as they want, or that you can’t keep living in your old house, but being honest with them now is better than letting them down later. If you have to break a promise you made during the divorce process, acknowledge it and apologize.