How to Help Your Children Cope with Divorce

It is difficult for two spouses to come to the realization that their marriage must come to an end, whether because the spark is lost, there are some fundamental disagreements, one of them egregiously wronged the other, or any number of other reasons that drive couples apart. While you are undoubtedly going through a tough time, if you have children, chances are that it is even more difficult for them, especially since they lack the maturity that is necessary to process this major life change. This is where you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse need to step in and become effective co-parents and ensure that your children are able to healthily cope with your divorce and continue to thrive and grow.

Below are some tips that can help you and your ex-spouse get your children through this difficult time:

  • Tell your children: As soon as you are completely certain that you and your spouse will move forward with a divorce, it is important to tell your children. The fact is that your children are going to notice that the two of you are behaving differently, especially if you are sleeping in separate bedrooms. Instead of contributing to their anxiety, tell them about the situation, but try to spare them the details. This conversation should not be about placing blame on you or your spouse. Keep it simple.
  • Encourage communication: Your initial conversation with your children is probably going to feel like an overload of information for them and they might need time to mull it over before asking any questions. That is why it is important to leave the lines of communications open and to encourage them to discuss their thoughts and feelings at any point. If they are still not coming to you with any questions or concerns, initiate conversations with them and explain that everything will be okay.
  • Provide reassurance: When parents divorce, kids often think that this will change the nature of their relationship with their parents, or that they will somehow be less loved. Make sure that they understand you and your ex-spouse will always love and be there for them, regardless if you are married or not. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure they know that the divorce had nothing to do with them and that it was an adult decision. Of course, make sure your words are backed up by the right actions by making an effort to show how much you love and care for them.
  • Do not badmouth your ex: Your children are guaranteed to feel less secure if you badmouth your ex-spouse. A big part of making them feel at ease involves letting them know that you support each other as parents and, though the marriage failed, you are still a team when it comes to them. That said, you and your ex-spouse will undoubtedly encounter some issues and disagree, but these problems should be handled privately. Your children love both of you, so do not hurt them by trying to make their other parent look bad.
  • Leave them out of it: Under no circumstances should you ever turn your children into messengers. You might not even be aware that you are engaging in this type of damaging behavior, so try to analyze the choices you make and refrain from treating them like pawns in your divorce. This will only do them harm in the long run. Your children did not ask for this, so try to shield them from any conflict as much as possible and only tell them what is necessary and conducive to their ability to cope.
  • Try to be flexible: Your entire family is going to take some time to adjust to the new dynamics and roles that come with divorce and, inevitably, some things might go wrong and someone might misunderstand or make an error in the date or time they are meant to pick up the children. Assuming these problems do not happen too frequently, you should both try to be understanding for the sake of maintaining stability and peace in your children’s lives. Things are going to get better, but you need to be flexible in the meantime.
  • Take care of yourself: You are going to be a major source of strength and support for your children, so you need to make sure you take care of yourself and your needs. Your ability to help your children through this difficult time will be greatly diminished if you are not in the best condition, so take a deep breath, engage in some self-care, and try to stay positive for them.

Divorce Attorneys in Bergen County

If you and your spouse are moving forward with a divorce, you are likely going through a very difficult time. At Sherwood, Johnson & Poles in Bergen County, our divorce attorneys are here to provide effective and compassionate legal guidance to ensure you are able to reach a resolution that protects your best interests. Backed by more than 25 years of legal experience, you can rely on us to help you navigate this process.

Get started on your case today and contact us at (888) 224-1218 to request your free initial case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable divorce attorneys.