According to Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, divorce is considered the second most stressful life event, right next to losing a loved one. This is a major change in anybody’s life and can be extremely difficult to deal with, even as an adult. However, it can be even harder on children. The fact that their parents are separating can take a huge toll on their mental and emotional health and development. This is why your first priority should be protecting your children from the effects of the entire situation, which can be a challenging task on its own.
It’s beyond important that you approach the problem carefully and thoughtfully, and if you aren’t sure how to do that, read this valuable advice to put you on the right path towards keeping your children as sheltered as possible in face of the events happening in their home.
Break the News Gently
Children notice more than you think and they probably already know that something is wrong. However, they might not understand exactly what it is and the divorce may come as a huge shock to them. This is why it’s essential that you give them the news as soon as you’ve made your final decision about the divorce and that you are well prepared for the talk. Think it through and even practice it, so that you don’t break down and start crying, or that you don’t let your anger take over during the conversation. Make sure that you convey the message that none of what’s happening is their fault and that, even though mom and dad are separating, you will both still be loving parents to your children. They need to know that they’re not losing either of you.
It’s normal for children to get scared and that need reassurance, so make sure you are there for them and, no matter what their reaction to the news is, you don’t show you’re surprised by it.
Spend Time with Them
In order to give your children the sense of security and to try to somewhat ease the transition, you have to spend as much time with them as you can. It’s inevitable that they’ll spend less time with their parents, as time with one parent now means time away from the other, but don’t forget that your children will have doubts, fears and questions you’ll need to answer, which means that you both of you have to find more time for them than usual.
Even if you don’t know the answers to these questions yourself, try to be patient and honest, so that they know that they can rely on you and feel free to tell you anything that’s bothering them. Your goal must be to let your children feel that their parents will always love them the same and be available to them, in any situation.
Keep Them Away from Arguments
Arguments aren’t an unusual thing before a separation. However, no matter how angry you get with your spouse, do your best to keep calm and stay reasonable when your children are nearby. You being loud and aggressive isn’t something you want them ever to witness. So, keep your discussions civilized and don’t allow your children to find themselves in the middle of your conflict under any circumstances. Which lawyer you choose for the divorce is also important.
The proportion of divorces with children involved is still high, albeit, for example, in Australia it’s lower than it was some 50 years ago, which is why you should look for the most experienced and respectful family lawyers North Brisbane offers. You need your lawyers to be efficient and compassionate, so that they don’t waste your time and that you don’t get more upset than necessary when you meet with them, as you want to be composed when you leave them and see your children afterwards.
Involve Other People
Your children will need support as much as you, if not more and it’s your job to ensure that they get that support. Involve your closest family and friend and ask them to keep your children company whenever you can’t be with them or to be there to assist you in case you’re moving. Those should be the people you trust, but that your children trust as well, since your children might ask them some serious questions and you want those questions to be answered with tenderness and empathy, so as not to worry or confuse your children further.
Also, talk to your children’s teachers and inform them of what’s going on. You’ll want any changes in behavior or mood or missed homework met with even more understanding and tolerance than they normally get. After all, children spend a lot of their time at school, and you want the teachers to fully recognize their needs and act in accordance with what the children are going through. Finally, don’t hesitate to involve a child psychologist to help you and your children.
As heartbreaking and nerve-racking your divorce can be for you, don’t lose sight of your children’s feelings for a second. If at any moment you feel things are slipping out of your hands and you can’t cope with all of it yourself and you can’t help your children in the right capacity, seek professional help. And don’t forget, even if it seems impossible that you’ll ever be happy or OK again, things can and will get better as time goes by and everybody adjusts to the new circumstances.