Couples who decide to divorce may do so for a number of reasons. Children, however, may not be as prepared for this situation as adults. While kids are quite resilient, they may also be negatively impacted by the realization that their family dynamic is drastically changing. Parents need to understand that their children need their support and love, now more than ever. Helping children through a divorce is not easy, but it can be done.
Explain in an Age-Appropriate Way
Kids are able to understand divorce, at least on some level. Communication is essential to helping children get through this stressful time. Even very young children realize that changes are occurring. Parents need to provide their children with an explanation of divorce that they can understand. All children need to know that the divorce is not their fault, and that neither their mother or father are villains in the situation.
Keep the Family Unit Functioning
Children are very adaptable, but they do need to establish a routine. Although the family unit is going to look different, it will now have a new way of functioning. Put new routines into place as quickly as possible, and keep as many of the old habits in place as you can. Implement a visitation schedule immediately, so that kids will quickly adapt to the new arrangements. Make sure that parents do not drag the children into the middle of the divorce, especially if it becomes hostile.
Not everyone deals with change in the same way. Some kids may become depressed, while others may act out. Still other children could simply shut down or get angry. All of these emotions are normal, and kids need to know that you are there to help and support them, no matter what.
Couples often go to counseling before, during, or after a divorce, and children can also benefit from this experience. Getting help from a professional is an excellent way to provide your children with the tools they need to process the changes in their lives so they can move forward without excess emotional baggage. Depending on their ages, children can often be aided by visiting with a counselor, therapist, or psychologist.
Put the Children First
Children need to know that both their parents still love them, even though they may no longer love each other. Parents must be careful not to fight in front of the children, or speak poorly of the other parent. Pay attention to your children and keep communication open so that you can detect problems and intervene before they worsen. When a divorce is becoming stressful, discuss the areas of contention with your attorney, who will always protect your rights and ensure a fair outcome for you and your family.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Helping Children Through a Divorce, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Steven H. Everts at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.