5 Ways to help your children during divorce

Posted on 03 September 2013

In our many years of helping people through their divorces we often witness the unfortunate collateral damage of divorcing parties…the children.

Here are 5 ways which many experts say can help your children cope during and after you and your relationship breakdown.

1. REASSURANCE. Reassure your children early and regularly that your divorce is not their fault. It is important that your children know that you and the other parent love them and will always be there for them. Reassuring your children verbally and by keeping things as ‘normal’ as possible is important so that they feel that although their parents are not going to live together anymore, they are still loved and that apart from their parents not living together, their day to day lives will not be completely overhauled.

2. ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU. During divorce, children worry all the time about how their lives will change; this is natural. It is important that you listen patiently as they express their fears and concerns to you over and over again. It is important that you encourage them to talk to you about how they are feeling and the emotions that they may be experiencing. Provide them with comfort and reassurance that both parents will continue to love and care for them. Whatever happens, whilst you are listening and talking to your children about how they feel, do not speak badly of the other parent or imply any blame for the divorce to the other parent. This leads to the next point…..

3. DO NOT CRITICISE YOUR SPOUSE IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILDREN. Whether you like it or not, your spouse is still your child’s other parent and when you criticise the other parent, you are indirectly criticising your child, whether you mean it or not. Your children will always identify with both their parents and when one parent criticises the other, your children will take this as a criticism of part of who they are – this will damage your children’s self esteem.

4. KEEP THE CONFLICT AWAY FROM YOUR CHILDREN. This includes not letting your children see or overhear any arguments between you and your spouse. There are mountains of studies that all say that the amount of conflict that your children see or hear during and immediately after your divorce is critically linked to how well they will adjust in the future. It is always in your children’s best interest to make sure that you and your spouse communicate civilly with each other. If emotions are high and your ability to communicate with each other has broken down, then we strongly recommend that you employ experts to assist you with your communication – but whatever you do – DO NOT argue in front of your children and most definitely NEVER use your children to carry a message to your spouse about child support, divorce, payments or any other matter that is related to your divorce.

5. FIND SUPPORT FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN. Ask your friends and family for help and let the children’s school know what is happening at home. They may be able to provide you and your children with invaluable support during this tough time.

Although it may take time (sometimes up to 2 years) for your children to adjust to a divorce, with a well thought out plan and two parents who prioritise protecting their children from their divorce as best they can, your children will adjust.

Helping your children cope and setting a good example for them is important to ensure that they model good behavior in the future.

Remember children watch what you do, not what you say.

In helping our many clients navigate the legal aspects of divorcing, we believe strongly that having solid emotional support is a vital element of getting through the divorce process. We have a network of professionals that specialise in helping both parents and children through the emotional divorce process and we regularly refer people to various services to assist them adjust and cope during this difficult time. Make sure that you not only deal with the ‘legal’ part of your divorce but that you also obtain the right help for your emotional needs, this can assist with an easier transition for you and your family and also to educate you and your spouse on how to get through a divorce without spending exorbitant amounts of money and time on the legal process and more importantly, without ‘emotionally scarring’ your children.