Going through a divorce is difficult at the best of times. When you’re going through a divorce with children in the picture, this presents a whole new range of challenges. Breaking up a family has practical and emotional considerations that you will need to think about.
As much as you will want to ensure your children feel like they are still in control, there are some decisions that the adults will have to make. Dealing with children issues surrounding a divorce is one of the biggest sources of stress for parents. As you transition towards co-parenting, try these techniques to make the adjustments more manageable.
Sit down as a family to discuss the divorce
Once you have reached the stage where you decide that divorce is the best option, it might be difficult for you to make decisions with your partner. But for the sake of your children, you’ll have to come together to have this discussion. It’s important that your children know that you both still love them and this will never change. Tell them what changes they can expect without scaring them.
Pitch the conversation at their level
Younger children will need fewer details. Older children might have practical questions they want to ask. You know your children best, but even emotionally mature children should be shielded from the most grown up things. Make sure you are discussing the divorce at a level they can understand.
Let them know it’s okay to talk about it
Children will have questions, even if they seem trivial to you, they are important to your child. Your child might be wondering who will take them to school, if they will still be going to the same school, or if they will still be going on holiday together. Give them time to process it, and let them know that it’s okay to ask questions when they are ready.
Ask your wider family to be respectful
It’s common for families to take sides in a divorce. It’s important that they are respectful of your ex-partner and that they don’t badmouth your ex in front of your children. Let your wider family know how you are managing the conversations, so that they can be prepared if your children ask them questions.
Never badmouth your ex-partner in front of your kids
Just as you don’t want your family to badmouth your ex-partner in front of your kids, you should pledge to do the same thing. You should also avoid heated arguments in front of your children as this can raise their stress levels at an already turbulent time. Expecting your children to take sides in the divorce is unfair and will simply make the situation more stressful for everyone.
Set a schedule and stick to it
Once you have separated and are living in different homes, you will need to decide on the custody arrangement. Will the children split their time equally, or spend most of their time with one parent and visit the other at weekends?
Once you have decided on the schedule, make sure you stick to it. Children thrive on routine, and this can be an excellent way to help them manage the divorce.
Be prepared for them to push boundaries
Even young children will know how to push your buttons. It’s not uncommon for young children to say they would rather be with the other parent when they aren’t getting what they want.
Giving into every demand just so they stay on your “side” will be a losing strategy in the long run as you will eventually come up against a demand you can’t meet. Be prepared for them to push your boundaries and don’t let this upset you.
Let their school teachers know
During term time, their teachers will be spending a significant amount of time with your child. It’s important that they are aware of what is happening at home so they can be aware of any behaviour changes in the classroom.
By letting their teachers know as soon as you have told your children, you can make sure their education doesn’t suffer. Children might act out in the classroom if there are big changes at home, so it’s important for their teachers to know the reason for this.