You have a lot to deal with when you’re going through a divorce. Your kids do too.
The changes swirling around them will be confusing for them.
It doesn’t really matter if they were positive about the changes when you first talked about the divorce. It’s how they feel about everything as it unfolds that matters most.
You want to make sure that your kids emerge from the divorce process without feeling left behind or unsure about their future.
Here is a handful of tips to help you to look after your children when you’re going through a divorce. – so your kids feel loved and heard.
It’s important your kids feel that although things may feel uncertain, you have an overall positive sense about the future. In particular you want to make sure that your kids know that they will remain completely loved and looked after.
They probably know this already. But during divorce you have a lot going on in your life. One of you is trying to find a new home. It’s easy to get distracted and forget that your children will need extra love from you right now – in order to cope with their anxiety about the many changes.
Talk with excitement about everything your kids have to look forward to – and list these positive opportunities clearly. For example, talk with your kids about the fun they will have decorating a brand new bedroom and/or exploring a new neighborhood.
If you and your ex are able to live within a decent proximity of each other, it will naturally be a helpful comfort for your children. But no matter how far away your ex might be, take time to reassure your children that they will still be seeing both parents (if this indeed is the case).
It’s normal to intuitively want to shelter your children from a lot of negative things – particularly when it comes to such a sensitive topic as a divorce.
If you still haven’t talked to them about the divorce, it’s a good idea to do this with all of your kids at once – instead of letting the youngest ones be in the dark by sparing them the news.
You don’t want to give the older kids the responsibility of bearing a secret they shouldn’t have to bear.
Plus, you’re only making the process a bit worse for the youngest if they don’t know everything that’s going on.
Be open and honest with your children. Allow everyone to have a proper talk about it. As a result, you will also get a much better understanding of what your kids are worried about so you can address their concerns directly.
Your kids may even be a bit excited about the divorce and the move – if they are allowed to be a part of selecting an appropriate home, decorating their new bedrooms, and choosing the best kind of furniture.
Share your children’s excitement about fixing up their new rooms. And don’t sulk if they seem to look forward to spending the night at your ex’s.
Your job is to increase the positive emotions and try to make the future look bright and happy.
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Please be mindful about not unburdening your negative emotions about your ex to your kids.
Sure, it might feel natural to talk to them about about your ex.
However, your children are not in a position to help you out with any negative feelings.
For this reason, make sure that you have a strong support system around you.
Find the best divorce lawyer and talk to them. Or discuss your negative feelings with your friends and your family. Or look into talking to a therapist.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that just because one of your kids seems to be coping well, you won’t necessarily see the same reaction in all of them.
One child may be carefree and even a bit happy that the hostility at home is over.
Another child may be sad and confused about all the changes.
Make sure your kids know that all emotions are allowed.
Try not to point to how one of your kids is coping better – and tell another child that they need to be more like them. This will only make the child who struggles feel bad about themselves – during an already challenging time.
Reassure your kids that they can always come to you and talk about how they feel.
Make it as easy and “safe feeling” as possible for your kids to cope with the changes they are facing.
You might even want to emphasize one of the unexpected side benefits of a divorce: All the people going through the divorce will be learning a bit more about themselves – and this self growth can lead to better things ahead.
Note: This article was written in collaboration with Daniela Handler.
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.
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