Growing up is hard; we all remember the awkward stages that involved braces, and crushes, school bully’s, and new friends. Change was a way of life, and as many will admit, it was hard. The process of growing up and discovering your purpose in life, creating your own identity in the midst of an ever growing world takes a lot of effort, but as an adult you can recall how it was worth it. Unfortunately, in the moment change is really hard for a child to deal with, and divorce is one of those changes that just might through them for a curve ball. The role of parenting during a divorce is extremely important because as you and your spouse walk through a separation, your children can be reassured time and time again that their parents aren’t divorcing them too.
Here are a few tips to consider when you and your spouse are in the process of a divorce in order to help your children in the process. Frist, explain to your children that your divorce is not about them. As adults you have chosen the best route for the both of you is to divorce, and it in no way is the children’s fault. Next, no matter how bitter of feelings you and your ex may hold towards each other, try not to display that in front of the children. Remember that while you are no longer a married couple, you still share children and because of that you need to work together in order to raise your children, with their happiness and wellbeing at the forefront of your mind.
As stated, working together as a team is important, but also explaining to your children that you want them to maintain a good relationship with both parents is essential as well. This will help the children not feel as though they must choose sides and can equally love both parents because you and your ex still love them whole heartedly. Honesty is one of the best tools that you can use with your children, no matter the age, it will help them understand the big picture, and not blame you for lying years down the road. Explain to them what a divorce looks like, walk them through how they can expect things to change in their life, and also reiterate the fact that you and your spouse will not be getting back together again. This last statement may seem harsh to some, though it will help the children stay clear of unmet expectations for a mom and dad “happily ever after again” in the future.
As communication and honesty is essential for a family, honesty with feelings is also just as important. Try to encourage your children to be open about how they are struggling with the divorce, their fears, anger, questions, concerns; all these things will be helpful for them to say out loud. As a parent however, it is important to remember that your children are not your best friends or your therapist, and sharing your intimate struggles about the divorce should not be done with your children, no matter how close of a relationship you have.
After a divorce, life is going to be different, that’s just how it goes. Use this time to create new family traditions with your kids, make them feel at home and yet don’t leave them to do only things that remind them of how the family used to be. For example, starting weekly dinner themes, like every Sunday night you have breakfast for dinner and wear your pajamas together and watch a movie. Obviously, each family situation and dynamic is unique; however trying to bring out the joy of being together in little ways is extremely beneficial for your children.
After you and your children have settled into your new way of life a bit, consider a pet in the home, a new puppy can add a lot to the excited in the home especially with the children. Giving them something to look forward to training and caring for can be a helpful tool in their coping after a divorce, and let them share that excitement with their other parent too.
It is important to realize that these changes will be hard for your children, though with time and a lot of care and comfort from their parents, they will recover from the divorce. Depending on your circumstance, perhaps consider committing to come together for birthday celebrations, allowing them to see that even though you are separated, their lives aren’t ruined. Many little details can make the world of a difference in the life of a child, it just takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither can a child’s broken heart be healed in a day; but it can be done!
Lastly, for those who are parents having just experienced a divorce, it is important to remember that you can’t help your kids if you don’t help yourself. Just as in the airplanes, the stewardess says parents must put on their oxygen first then their kids; so must you care for your wellbeing as well as your kids. Whether this is starting a new hobby or picking up yoga, find a way to recover from the change and hardships of the divorce; you will be thankful you did in the long run. If you or your spouse is considering a divorce, contact Ellerin Hutchinson today for more information!