Once you’ve made the decision to divorce, you should be prepared that your children are likely to feel they have contributed to your decision. They are kids, and in their world, it’s all about them. Somehow, they will see themselves as the cause of the divorce. Helping kids deal with divorce is the most important focus for both of you.
1. Keep It Age-Appropriate: Helping Kids Deal with Divorce
Divorce can be a challenging, emotional time for your kids. How children accept your divorce – and how they deal with it – is never the same for every child. You can, however, often anticipate their responses based on their ages.
A 4-year-old thinks if he’d behaved better, there wouldn’t be a divorce; he begins to act out. A 14-year-old may think the same thing, but her response is to spend twice as much time in her room. When you’re helping kids deal with divorce, know they will do better if you are consistently up-front, honest and trustworthy.
They need to be able to depend on what you say. Don’t voice what you haven’t nailed down if it sets up what might be an unrealistic expectation. Wait until you are able to say what’s real: “Mom’s going to rent a house near your school.”
2. Helping Kids Deal With Divorce: How to Tell Them
Even during marital problems, your children should see that together, you are their parents. –How Much to Tell Your Kids
You and your co-parent should make a plan. First, talk with each other about your kids and their personalities. Then, anticipate their questions. When you’re ready for the conversation, consider having all kids and both parents together. The conversation should take place in a distraction-free area of the home with all phones off. By doing so, you communicate you are a “united front” as co-parents.
Keep your message clear and understandable. A pre-schooler doesn’t need relationship details, but a teen may want to understand your emotions and motivations. Don’t sugar-coat the divorce. Today’s kids are usually too savvy to fall for it. When your child accepts what you say, make sure you can deliver on their expectations.
3. Helping Kids Deal with Divorce: During the Process
Implement a rule immediately – neither parent will speak negatively about the other, nor allow anyone else to do so in the presence of the children. If you’re using the collaborative divorce process, your divorce is already family-focused. Frequently remind the kids they come first and their needs will be met by both parents. Continue reinforcing that they did not cause the divorce in any way. Tell your kids this divorce may lead to different living options, but your family is forever.
4. After the Divorce
Structure and consistency are twice as important now. Your kids need to know they can depend on you to be there for them 24/7. They may be past the guilt they were feeling, but on some level, the fear that Mom or Dad might leave them is still very real.
As holidays and special occasions approach, let your kids plan the events – within reason (you can’t go to Disneyworld every birthday). Discuss “what we always do,” and then expand the conversation to include new traditions.
Choosing Arizona Collaborative Divorce
The purpose of collaborative divorce is for you and your spouse to brainstorm solutions and come to mutually agreeable outcomes. To do this, you’ll need to work together to decide the terms of your Arizona divorce.–Discover the Collaborative Process for Your Arizona Divorce
In Arizona, you have choices if you’d rather avoid the conflict of courtroom divorce drama. Collaborative divorce creates customized solutions for your divorce. It’s a process that is proven to work best when helping kids deal with divorce.
You can take advantage of neutral financial expertise and communications coaching as well as experienced legal professionals in the collaborative divorce process. Contact one of the professionals with Best Legal Choices today to navigate a respectful divorce while protecting your kids.
Specializing in collaborative divorce, mediation, and family and juvenile law matters, Kristine has over two decades of experience working with children and families experiencing difficult transitional life events.