The decision to divorce can be hard on both spouses, but it can be even more difficult to grasp for their children.
Children react in many different ways, including withdrawing in grief or acting out in anger and confusion. It is common for parents to feel stressed or even guilty when children are put through the stress of divorce.
However, there are ways that parents can help their children cope with the stress of divorce.
Avoid arguing in front of the children
Arguing in front of the kids after breaking the news often only increases their stress. It can make children feel like they are in the middle of the conflict and must choose a side. According to Mayo Clinic, it can help if parents:
- Put their children first;
- Avoid badmouthing the other parent; and
- Avoid asking the child for information about the other parent.
Of course, a parent’s feelings of hurt and frustration are valid during the divorce as well. And even spouses who agree to divorce often run into conflict throughout the proceedings. However, both parents must take measures to prevent disputes and badmouthing their ex-spouse in front of the kids.
Communicate with them
Communication is a key element in helping children through the divorce process. There are a few reasons for this, including:
- Children will have a lot of questions, including where they will live or how things will change; and
- They will also experience a complex range of emotions, just like their parents.
It is critical that parents are honest with children and let them know that they can talk to both of their parents. Talking is often one of the best ways to help both parents and children work through the stress of divorce.
Make sure they know they are loved
It can be difficult for children to adjust to the changes a divorce brings to their life. These changes are one of the primary reasons children act out after learning of their parents’ divorce.
However, amid all of these changes, there is one constant: the parents’ love for their child.
Parents should ensure they take time for their children and show that their love will not change, even as the family dynamic changes. This can help children feel safer and less anxious in the face of change, regardless of their age.