In a scene played out amongst many broken families, the unhappy couple argue and fight, while the children are left to cope with their own hurt feelings. When divorce is agreed upon, those same children are left to pick up the pieces of their parent’s broken relationship, often caught in the middle of a vicious custody battle, and dealing with feelings of sorrow, rejection, and loneliness.
Divorce is painful for everybody, and if this is something relevant in your life right now, we are sorry to hear it. But please don’t forget your children and how they are feeling. You want to do the best for them, helping them through this difficult time, despite the upset you are going through. Your child didn’t choose for your relationship to end, yet they are thrust into this troubled time along with you. Here are some suggestions to help your children cope.
Avoid a bitter court battle
Instead of going to court, which let’s face it, is painful for everybody, seek collaborative divorce help from a professional legal team. Consider what is best for your child during this time, and work with your attorney and partner to come to an agreeable solution, for all of you.
Let your children know they are loved
Children often think they are to blame for what has happened to their parent’s relationship. Tell them this isn’t so, repeat those words as often as necessary, and tell them how much you love them. They need reassurance from both parents, alleviating those guilty feelings that will bubble up inside them. Continue to tell them you love them throughout the whole divorce period and beyond – this is a painful time, after all.
Allow your children the opportunity to communicate
Your child will have lots of questions about what is happening now, and questions about the future. They will also have a lot of pent-up feelings inside that will be giving them troubled thoughts. Communication is key, so be ready to listen to how they are feeling, and answer any questions as honestly as you can. Children are often overlooked during divorce, to their detriment. Make sure this doesn’t happen in your family situation.
Don’t bad mouth your partner
Sometimes blame can be attributed to one part of the relationship; sometimes there is no blame, and the relationship may have fizzled out. In either case, don’t bad mouth your partner in front of your child. It’s common for a parent to try to win their child’s affection in this way, but that is a selfish way to find security. Your child should not have to listen to their parent being talked about critically. If you have anything negative to say, speak to your friends or your attorney, and don’t drag your children into your negative thinking.
Allow for a peaceful handover time
Assuming you are having joint custody (and you should when possible), don’t fight with your ex-partner when you are handing your children over for time with the other parent. Even if you have to smile through gritted teeth, the transition needs to be as peaceful as possible. If you can’t contain your emotions, ask another family member to take your place for the handover. Life is tough enough for your kids, without them having to see mummy and daddy argue again.
Your children matter – care for them, love them, and remember their feelings during this difficult time. We hope that everything works out for the best for all of you. Take care, and thanks for reading.