Coming to the decision that your marriage/civil partnership has come to an end is not an easy time. However, when there are children involved, it can make the process even more difficult – particularly if a parent is so overwhelmed with the emotions of the process that they don’t tend to their children’s needs.
To make divorce as painless as possible, parents have to understand what is hard for children about the process and try to minimise those parts.
Here are a few points to keep in mind.
1. Think about how you will tell them
As soon as the decision has been made to separate, it’s important to sit down and talk with your children, together. A show of unity can reassure the children that you’re both still their parents, even if you have decided you would be happier apart. Consider how you tell them, what language you use, and how much information to disclose about the reasons behind the divorce, as this should always be age-appropriate and something they can understand.
2. Keep conflict to a minimum
Never involve a child in disagreements and never place blame – even if there is a serious issue involved with the divorce. You need your children to feel informed about what is taking place, but not think that it is either parent’s fault. Ensure that your children are never treated as a go-between, even if the intentions are good, and don’t ask them to take sides, or make a choice about who to live with if they aren’t emotionally mature enough to make that decision.
3. Take care of yourself
It may sound obvious, but stressful divorces can have an impact on eating and sleeping. You’ll be able to better care for your children at this tough time, if you’re caring for yourself.
4. Keep a consistent routine
As a parent, you know that children are resilient and adaptable. If they know what is happening, when and how, they keep control of their understanding of the situation, which can alleviate a great deal of stress. Be predictable, and agree to a routine that your children can become familiar with.
5. Expect challenging behaviour
Particularly if you are sharing custody, or have a co-parenting agreement in place, you need to make sure you and your ex-spouse are on the same page. It is perfectly normal for children to act out during a divorce, with emotions running high. There is every chance that a child will feel angry or perhaps act out of character to get attention if they feel insecure.
6. Be honest
It is natural for parents to shield their children from the reality of a divorce – but even young children will know something is happening. The truth is often far easier to manage than any imaginary scenario they might conjure up, so always be truthful about the fact that their parents are divorcing. Open, honest conversations can be tough but are vital to your children’s feelings of stability.
7. Seek support
Finally, remember that it is ok to ask for help if you need it than to try and go it alone. Divorce can be challenging for so many reasons, and if you feel that you are struggling to cope, or that your child isn’t managing the situation well, never hesitate to reach out for support.
Contact a solicitor who will act in the best long-term interests of you and your children. They should attempt to minimise conflict wherever possible, and help you to understand your position from a legal point of view. Here at PGM we have a highly experienced team which appreciates that each and every parent will face a unique challenge during this time. You can be confident that we will be here every step of the way to offer advice and support.
Contact us here.