No couple goes into a marriage thinking that in a few years or even months they will be divorced. Divorce is hard enough for the two people who vowed to be together through thick or thin. Imagine what divorce does to children.
When parents decide to separate, they should walk their children through the murky waters of this big change in their lives. Minimizing the effects of divorce on the children should be the number one concern of the parents. Why?
Because in most divorce, it is the children who suffer more than the parents. Their feelings and opinions are often set aside, totally ignored. Ignoring how your divorce affects your children is a big mistake.
- Be honest. Even if you don’t fight in front of the kids, don’t think they don’t know anything about the situation. Children can detect changes in the family dynamics. They can feel things beyond what adults think they are capable of feeling. Talk to your children about what is happening. They have all the right to know. However, never complain or badmouth your spouse to your children. No matter what problems you as a couple are experiencing, remember that your spouse is still your children’s parent. They need to continue loving and respecting both of you.
- Assure them that it is not their fault. Children can’t help but think that they are the cause of or at least contributed to the divorce. If your children voice this out, tell them that they are not in any way the cause or the reason for the separation. Knowing that it is not their fault is important to them.
- Allow them to ask questions. Make sure your children know that they can approach you anytime if they have questions or would only like to talk. Whether they want to talk about facts or their feelings, they have to know that you are willing to listen.
- Be more affectionate. Give them extra physical attention…a pat on the head, a kiss on the cheek, an unexpected hug. They need to feel loved not by giving them presents or money but through physical and emotional affection.
- Spend more quality time with them. Your world is falling apart and so is theirs. Increase the times that you spend with them. Find activities that they enjoy and do these with them. You need to have more bonding moments so they don’t feel neglected.
- Exercise patience. Because of what is happening your children may act out. Their grades may not be as good. Some kids get into trouble in school or even outside. If your children were not difficult before, then it may be safe to say that the negative things that they are exhibiting may be due to the situation at home. Be more patient with them. Hold your tongue. Try your best not to get mad at them. Instead, sit them down and have a heart to heart talk.
- Seek counseling. Your children’s teachers may detect changes in your children’s moods, attitudes and demeanor. Ask their children to let you know if they notice anything different. Talk to the guidance counselor in school and seek advice. If necessary, bring the children to a qualified child counselor.
Divorce is never easy on the children. Many divorced children, if not guided properly end up divorced themselves in the future. Don’t allow the pains of divorce to affect your children. Do your best to minimize the effects of your separation on your kids. Show your children all the love and understanding that you can during these emotionally trying times.