If your divorce was painful or painless, it is fair to say divorce impacts your children in some capacity for the rest of their lives. After a child’s parents go through a divorce, a child views the world differently, and views relationships in a whole new perspective. After your divorce is finalized and you begin your new “normal”, it is important to check in on your children to see how they are feeling.
I was recently reading a memoir called “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. Throughout her memoir, she offers insight about going through a divorce with her former husband and how that impacted their children. Her book is incredible, and one line really stood out to me. Glennon wrote, “It’s not hard decisions that mess up kids, it is indecision. Your kids need to know which way this is going to go.” That is a really profound statement, and something that we see every day in our office. Children aren’t generally scared of splitting their time between their parents, children are scared of the unknown and the uncertainty that divorce brings to the table. To help children find some type of certainty and security during the divorce process, consider the following four tips:
1. Recognize the Importance of Routine- Whether we realize it or not, children thrive with a set routine. Routines provide children with a sense of predictability. After a divorce, try to make sure that children feel the least amount of disruption in their life. Make sure that both parents take the children to their regularly scheduled extracurricular activities and events. Try to establish similar and regular mealtimes and bedtimes at each house so the children know that their routine remains intact, even if they travel house to house. It might also be helpful to discuss ground rules that both parents follow at their homes so that children know bad behavior will not be rewarded in either home. Also, seeing parents on the same page goes a long way!
2. Do Not Speak Disparagingly About the Other Parent- No matter the differences parents have with one another, it is important to set that aside in order to communicate about the wellbeing of children. There is no rule that says you have to like each other after divorce, but you still have one incredible thing in common, your children. Treating your former spouse with respect in front of children teaches them life lessons of humility, respect, and civility. Plus, it makes shared events such as graduations, school plays, sporting events, and parent teacher conferences a little less awkward!
3. Know When to Seek Professional Help- Divorce is not an easy process for any child to go through, and it is important for parents to recognize this. Always trust your gut when it comes to your children. If you feel as if your child isn’t opening up about his/her feelings to you post-divorce, know when to seek professional help. Sometimes having a neutral third party to talk to is beneficial for a child. At our office, we have several amazing child psychologists and therapists that we frequently recommend to our clients.
4. Be as Flexible as You Can- When children are living in two homes, things can get complicated from time to time. Showing your child that you can remain flexible if something changes in the parenting schedule is important. Again, it helps your children if you are amicable with your former spouse or significant other.
If you’re considering a divorce and want to make sure your children are your #1 priority, give our office a call! We would be more than happy to set up a consultation and talk through the process with you.
By: Anne Brockman
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