If you're in the process of filing for divorce, you're not alone. About 42% of marriages end in divorce. When children are involved, the process can be even more challenging. Even when you and your partner are divorcing amicably, children can have a hard time accepting the situation. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways you can make divorce easier for your children.
Make Sure Your Child Knows They Can See Both of You
It's important that your children understand that just because their parents are divorcing each other, it doesn't mean they're losing their parents. One of the things children most worry about is being able to see a non-custodial parent.
It's important that your child gets plenty of reassurance from both parents that they will be able to see both of them and that the only difference is that their parents won't be living together if that's the situation.
Have a plan in place when you talk to your child about the divorce because they're going to have questions like where they will live, who will take them to school, and how often they will be able to see the other parent. Ideally, you and your soon-to-be-ex will be able to put the child's well-being first and be able to sit down together as a family to have a conversation.
Don't Say Bad Things About the Other Parent
Bad mouthing the other parent to your children only hurts your children. Child support can be a big bone of contention for parents. Child support, according to most state family laws, is payable until a child turns 21, but sometimes, payments are late, or partial, or don't come at all. This can leave the custodial parent with some hard feelings. You should never express those feelings to your children.
Likewise, if you are the parent that is paying child support, discussing how tight your budget is with your child because child support payments are too high, is never appropriate. No matter how you feel about your ex, you should never express that to your child. It is important for your children's mental health that they perceive you and the other parent as a united front. Save those conversations for other family members who may have a sympathetic ear to lend.
Don't Try to Buy Their Love
There are over 1.8 billion websites active online, and it can be really easy to buy something for your children to try to make them feel better about the divorce or to gain favor with them. Don't do it. Don't try to buy your children's love or try to make things up to them by overspending on gifts.
Guilty parent syndrome is often triggered when there is a divorce. No one likes the idea of having a new family dynamic, but the fact is it's a dynamic that many children live with. Trying to buy your way out of guilt is unhealthy for you and for your child. Consider family counseling to learn skills for dealing with the guilt of divorce instead of overburdening your credit cards and creating an unhealthy relationship with your child.
You're Still a Family, But the Dynamic Has Changed
Divorce is tough on everyone, but keep in mind that, regardless of whether you love your ex or not, your child does. You can still very much be a family together without being a couple. Working through the rough patches and staying respectful of each other during the process is essential to getting to the other side of divorce and to a happier place where everyone can get along.
As long as you and your ex have children together, you will always have to deal with each other for the sake of your children. Putting the children's well-being first will make the transition easier for everyone.
Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn't lost in a book or writing, she's busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.