The effect that a divorce can have on a child is profound. Although discussing your divorce with your child can often be the hardest step in the process, it’s important that you handle it properly. In this blog, our Denver divorce attorney shares tips on how to minimize the impact of a divorce on a child.
Divorce is already hard enough on a family. In fact, close to half of marriages end in divorce, according to data from the CDC. It’s important that your child or children know both parents are on their side throughout the process. The last thing you want is your child blaming themselves for a divorce, being caught between two parents, or feeling like home isn’t home any more.
Below are five ways to minimize the impact of divorce on your family unit:
You can explain the terms of your divorce with your child without being overly critical of your ex-spouse. While this may be difficult to do, especially if the marriage is ending due to the actions of one particular parent, your child will see that there is still a mutual respect between you and your spouse.
This also shows your child that positive relationships between you and your spouse can still exist in the event of divorce. Co-parenting and marriage are different things; make sure you both make an effort to still be stellar co-parents even if you aren’t together anymore. This helps your child maintain a feeling of home and regularity and provides a positive example for getting along with people you may disagree with.
During the divorce transition, reassuring your child that he or she is still loved by both parents is extremely important. If you can’t promise that everything will remain the same, then don’t promise it. There will be differences in everyone’s lives once the divorce is finalized, and there is no use tip-toeing around the inevitable.
Develop new habits together and make an effort to always reassure your child if they’re experiencing doubt. There is no competition between the two parents. In fact, both should keep communication open and make their child still feel loved, important, and the center of their lives.
There will be times when your child won’t want to discuss the divorce or talk to either parent regarding their separation, and you should let them have that time. Don’t force a discussion if they aren’t prepared for one, but make sure they know that door is open if they ever want to talk. Even if your child doesn’t have questions or comments right away, it’s not to say there won’t be any in the future. Keeping the discussion open allows your child to feel welcome to come to either parent to discuss how they’re feeling when they’re ready.
Answer questions honestly, and if you have older children, talk to them like adults about the situation. If you don’t keep your children in the loop about what’s happening, they are bound to fill in the gaps themselves and develop resentful feelings towards one or both parents. Communication is key to maintaining healthy relationships with your kids, especially in a turbulent time in the family.
A big part of every child’s life is their day-to-day routine, which can be greatly disrupted once divorce is on the table. Take the initiative and establish a new routine early on, and make sure it’s consistent and they have a say in what that is. During the transition, it’s common for children to test the boundaries and behavioral rules. Be firm, but loving. As a parent, you can show that regardless of the situation, you and your child will get through it as a family.
Ask them what they’d like to do with you in this new normal. Their lives are likely going to change dramatically and against their will. It’s important to keep them in the loop and ask for their thoughts and feelings, and how they want their new life to look.
Parents should still cooperate together after a divorce, especially for the sake of their children. Coordinate schedules in a way that minimizes change for the child and don’t fight over things like time with your kids. If you do have disagreements, don’t have them in front of your children. Rather, have productive conversations behind the scenes about how to solve your problems with your children’s best interests in mind.
Don’t ever make your children choose sides or pick one parent over the other. If you do begin to introduce a new partner to your children, check with your former spouse first out of respect. Then, take it slow. Your children have been through big changes as it is.
Take care of yourself throughout the process as well. You may only be focusing on your children or the divorce, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be the parent you want to be for your child. Try to find common ground about how to go about the new normal, and check with your children if this method works for them. If it doesn’t work or isn’t received well, ask them how to make it better.
Divorce is never easy, especially for any children within the marriage. Though it is sure to be difficult for your children, especially at first, there are ways to minimize the impact of the divorce by being strong co-parents throughout the process. To recap, some ways to minimize the impact of divorce include:
Filing for divorce and need help understanding your rights? At Peek Vasquez, LLC (former Peek Family Law, LLC), our dedicated Denver divorce attorney can ensure that you not only understand your rights, but that they’re protected.