While divorce is difficult on you and your ex-spouse, your children are likely facing some of the most difficult emotional trauma of all. That is because children have less direct information about the complicated dynamics that led to the divorce, and less emotional maturity and life experience to process the event and handle the dramatic change to their lives.
Depending on their ages, your children may need vastly different types of support and coping mechanisms to help them move through the process of divorce in a healthy and emotionally balanced way. Here are some strategies and tips you can use as you go through divorce to help your children have the tools they need to successfully handle this difficult time.
1. Keep communication open and honest
Although your initial instinct may be to protect and shelter your children from the reality of what is happening as you move through divorce, the healthiest strategy is to face things as openly and honestly as possible.
How much you share and the way you share it will depend on your children’s ages. Very young children may only need to know that you love them and that although things are changing, they are safe. Older children and teens will probably wish to have more in-depth conversations and may display their emotions more openly through anger, fear or sadness. Some experts point to the fact that a divorce helps children learn how to deal with change.
2. Make children a priority in your legal decisions
Long, drawn-out and bitter legal battles are not good for anyone, especially your children. As you choose a family law attorney to help you with your divorce, find out about your potential attorney’s approach when it comes to children. Your children’s best interests should play a primary role in your custody and parenting decisions.
3. Take care of yourself
Although it may sound counterintuitive, one of the most important things you can do to help your children through divorce is to make your own well-being a priority. If you take care of your physical and mental well-being during your divorce, you will be better equipped to help your children stay well also. Seek out appropriate and trustworthy sources of support and guidance as you go through your divorce.