Best Tips to Reduce the Negative Impact of Divorce on Children…
Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, leaving a lot of children of divorce in their wake. While studies have shown that a majority of kids adjust in the long term, there are still short-term consequences that must be dealt with.
Children may experience a wide range of emotions from anger to sadness. Some develop behavioral problems, and may even suffer academically for a while. They may withdraw from their friends and prefer to spend more time alone. While these things can be worrisome for any parent, it’s important to note that a majority of children adjust after a year or two, with studies showing that children who are kept in volatile environments with their parents constantly fighting fare far worse than those whose parents decided to divorce.
Parents can follow these best tips to reduce the negative impact of divorce on children:
- Start off on the right foot. How you tell your children about your divorce is very important. If you and your spouse show a united front and clearly explain what is happening to your children together, they’ll feel more secure going forward. Children thrive on security, and during a time when many aspects of their lives are changing, knowing that their parents still love them and are always going to be there for them- no matter what- can go a long way in helping them adjust.
- Keep your opinions about your ex to yourself. You may hate your ex, but your kids don’t have to. Children should never be brought into conflict between their parents. Remember that your children love you both equally, and they shouldn’t have to choose sides. Keep them out of adult conversations and only tell them what they need to know in an age-appropriate manner. Vent to your friends or therapist- not your kids.
- Avoid fighting in front of your kids. One of the main reasons you’re probably getting a divorce is because you’re tired of fighting. Your kids are probably even more tired of it. Keep that in mind the next time you get angry at your former spouse and want to yell at them in front of the kids. One benefit of living apart is that you can take some time to cool off before you get into a disagreement that your kids might witness. If you do have a disagreement with your ex, try to keep it over text, email, or a private phone conversation- away from the ears of little ones.
- Keep things on a need-to-know basis. Your kids don’t need to know all of the nitty-gritty details of your divorce. They don’t need to know if your ex cheated. They don’t need to know how much your divorce costs or how much child support you’re paying/receiving. Let kids be kids and keep the logistics of things to the adults.
- Take care of your kids. Kids need to feel secure and loved, especially during a major change like a divorce. Keep things as consistent as possible for them. They need to spend time with both of their parents. Children need to go to school and participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. They need to see their friends. They need regular exercise and healthy meals and plenty of sleep. Taking care of them in the same way you would have if you and your ex were still together will go a long way in helping your children cope with the divorce.
- Take care of yourself. Your kids are looking to you to set an example. Do that by taking care of yourself- both physically and mentally. Don’t be afraid to seek support for your mental health. Show them that, although this is a major life change, it’s something that will make all of you stronger- and happier- in the long run.
- Proceed with caution going forward. Your children have just gone through a major life change, so proceed with caution when it comes to other big changes like introducing a new romantic partner. You may be ready to move on, but your kids will need some time to adjust to seeing their mom or dad with a new love interest. Make sure that your relationship is solid before making any introductions. Your kids just went through a divorce with you- going through a breakup soon after could be crushing to them.
Remember that kids are resilient, and while the initial weeks, months, or even years may be difficult, with time, most kids adjust just fine. They might even thank you later on for getting them out of a toxic situation and bringing some peace and stability into their lives.
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