Quite often it is the children that bear the burden of a divorce. It can be confusing for them and they may find themselves stuck in a situation where they feel they are forced to take sides or simply feeling fearful about their future.
It is crucial for divorcing spouses to minimize the impact of a divorce on their children. Here are some tips on the best ways to achieve this:
1. Avoid contentious custody battles
Children who have to go through contentious custody battles and witness public arguments, hostility between the spouses and feeling that they are caught in the middle are far more likely to experience negative psychological consequences such as feelings of guilt, rage, low self esteem all the way to high risk behavior in their later years.
2. Avoid being negative when speaking about your spouse
It may be a great way for you to release your pent up anger and get back at your spouse that you feel has wronged you, but this is not something that you should be directing towards your children.
The negative feelings that you project onto them could damage them mentally and psychologically as well as possibly making them resent you in the future for standing in the way of their relationship with one of their parents. If you need to vent, see a counselor or therapist – this is not what children are for.
3. Don’t Over Share
Be careful not to over share information regarding the divorce and blaming your ex spouse. Of course children do need to have some sort of explanation and understanding but it is best to avoid getting into the details wherever possible.
4. Helping them Deal with Change
Do whatever is required to helping children cope with divorce and assist your children with the changes that will take place. It is well known that children do not always cope well with change and need a lot of love and support during this time. Ensure that their environment is consistent, stable and that they feel safe about their future.
- Make sure that they understand that even though their parents are going to be separating, they will still remain in their lives and that they will not be neglected.
- Try to keep things as normal and stable as possible and minimize radical changes like big moves, changing schools and limited visitation rights. It is unfair on the children in the long run and can have a harmful psychological impact on them.
- Don’t get overrun by your emotions – put the needs of your children first before doing something to spite your spouse or engaging in aggressive arguments with your spouse or using the children as a bargaining tool.
5. Ensure that the Father maintains a role in parenting
It is essential that the father maintains a significant presence and influence in their children’s lives during and after a divorce.
There can be devastating long term consequences if a father’s role is significantly or even completely diminished. Male children require a positive role model while female children receive a great deal of self esteem from the love and attention of their father. These things should not be taken away from innocent children just to punish the other spouse.
6. Do not project pain onto them
If a mother internalizes the pain and projects hostility onto the children and limits visitation, it can be highly detrimental to a child’s mental, psychological and emotional development.
If you are struggling with your own issues regarding the divorce, seek professional help and avoid using children as leverage and a tool to punish your ex spouse.
7. Let them be children
Just because you and your spouse are going through turmoil does not mean that the children have to as well. Helping children cope with divorce means allowing them to be children, allow them to play, interact with other children, spend time engaged in their hobbies. This will also serve to distract them from the negative emotional impact in their home life.
As much as possible, try to be there with them and share these fun times and activities. It helps them build a sense of trust in the world and reassures them that everything will be fine.
8. Provide them with ample love and attention
When parents are going through a divorce it is quite common for them to become completely absorbed in the process, forget about helping children cope with divorce and neglect their children’s needs to some extent. This is normal but it is also highly detrimental and parents should have the ability to put their emotions to one side and help their children during this difficult time by giving them as much love, attention and support as possible. This is actually when they need it most because there is so much change and uncertainty.
Helping children cope with divorce takes time, dedication and dealing you’re your own emotional issues in tandem. Always be supportive, attentive and as positive as possible. Children can adapt quickly if they are given the right tools and support.
If you do happen to notice prolonged signs and symptoms of psychological distress it is best to seek the help of a professional who deals exclusively with children of a divorce. This can help both the children and take some pressure off you as a parent.
Hiring a New York Divorce Law Firm
Making the decision to get a divorce is difficult and can have a significant impact on both the parties involved as well as children and other family members. Hiring the right divorce lawyer who is highly experienced and has dealt with issues regarding children and divorce is crucial.
At the Law Offices of Brian D. Perskin we can help can help you deal with and negotiate some of the most difficult matters such as child custody, child support, and Father’s rights with the utmost professionalism and compassion.
Some further divorce resources:
Children in the Middle is a parent education program which helps parents to focus on their children’s needs during and after a divorce/separation. It is very easy to focus on anger and resentment, and to forget that your children are hurting too. Consider what efforts you can make to keep the bond between your child and your child’s other parent strong; in the vast majority of families this is an important and positive part of your child’s development.