Parenting during divorce is not an easy task. While the parents themselves are a mess, the kids feel even worse. Breaking of the family unit if not handled properly often leaves permanent damage on the kids’ psyche. Now would be the time for the parents to set aside differences and work together.
What are the things that children want or don’t want from parents during a divorce?
- In such a trying time, your child’s prime need is going to be your presence and involvement. Your child just wants to know that they are loved.
- The child will feel a lot better if both the parents present a united front and agree on matters related to the child.
- Your child would love it if you don’t show jealousy or sadness when she is spending time with your partner.
- No child wants to be a messenger for their parents. Resolve the issues without involving your child in it.
- No child wants to hear harsh or mean comments about any of the parents.
- Your child will want both of the parents in her life.
How should you tell the kids about divorce?
The best foot forward is a prepared one. Before having the conversation with the kids, ensure that you are mentally prepared to face it without breaking down, talking harshly about your partner, or losing your temper. Anticipate what questions may come up and plan everything carefully beforehand. Both parents need to discuss the living arrangements before telling the kids.
Use an understanding and empathetic tone while telling the news to the kids. If the kids are young, try to keep a calm and cheerful composure. Your explanation should be at your kid’s level. Adolescents tend to ask more difficult and detailed explanations. It would also be better if both the parents are present while telling the news to the kids.
What to tell the kids about divorce?
Even though you don’t need to explain all the detailed reasons but you should always tell share the honest reason behind such a decision. Keep the reasons concise, constant, and simple. Keep your child’s age and maturity level in mind before you tell the reasons.
Tell them that both of you will always be their parents even if you are not married to each other. Ensure that you are only using the language of love for them.
- Tell them that you love them
Verbally saying it out loud can be a miraculous and powerful tool in such situations. Your kid’s world is going to change completely after hearing such news and he/she will be questioning everything about life and love. In such difficult times, remind your kid that your love for them is constant.
- Discuss adjustments
Tell your kids that while your love for them, how you will make their breakfast, or how you all love to watch movies together will never change. But also address that some things will have to change from now on.
Don’t bombard them with every detail right away but discuss a little if they keep asking questions. If you are not helping them understand your divorce, this is a sign of bad parenting.
- No blame game
Both the parents should know what reasons they will be telling the kids and don’t waver away from those reasons. In front of the kids, you should always stick to your agreed reasons and never blame anybody for your divorce. Be respectful and considerate of each other in front of the kids.
- Discuss feelings
Under the pressure of sudden changes and immense feelings of sadness and loss, some kids don’t react at all. But their feelings manifest later in forms of lashing out, stress, sleep deprivation, or even misbehave at school.
Tell your kids that whatever they are feeling is normal and that it would be best to share them with you. Tell them that they don’t have to pretend to be okay. Be observant of their behaviors and moods and help them to share and talk about their feelings.
How can you guide them through your divorce?
- Encourage honesty
Sometimes children hide their true feelings to not hurt the parents. Tell the kids that whatever they are feeling is valid. Tell them that they can be mad at you or blame you and that it is important to share true feelings so that everyone can work through those emotions.
- Keep clarifying doubts
You may have to keep talking about the divorce and clarifying things for some time. You will find your kids understanding everything one day but the very next day they will again want explanations. This also continues as children age and become mature which gives them new questions.
- Be truthful
If you don’t know the answer to any of your kid’s questions, don’t beat around the bush but truthfully say that you don’t know and that you will think about it and clarify it later. If you are a new mom, know how you can raise the newborn alone.
- Don’t be dismissive
As much as you would want to make everything okay for your kids and move on from this ordeal, kids will take a longer time to process everything. Never be dismissive of your kid’s feelings or repeated questions. Be gentle, understanding, and reassuring.
- Tell them to not blame themselves
A lot of kids think that the divorce is their fault. They recall all the arguments that they caused between the parents. Remind your kid that none of it is their fault.
Frequently Asked Questions on Parenting in Times of Divorce
1. How can I bring stability for my kids during my divorce?
Divide the chores and parenting duties and let the kids know about them. Such routines don’t need to rigid but should be consistent to give children the sense of the new normal. Let them that even when they spend time with one of the parents they will need to follow the set of rules. Changing homes on the weekends should not mean a complete change in routines and disciplines.
2. What are some common questions kids ask after hearing about divorce?
Some of the common questions asked are about the living arrangements of the kids and the parents, how will the family vacations be, if the kids will enjoy family time together like before and whether the kids will have to change schools.
3. How to stop the kids from blaming themselves for the divorce?
If your kids are old enough, you can give them a detailed explanation of the reasons behind the divorce. Sometimes hearing everything in detail help the children understand. Be calm, reassuring, and patient. Always keep your composure and address everything with a clear and constant answer.
You need to make this transitional period as smooth as possible for your kids. Let them know that they will be the parents’ top priority. Keep reminding the kids that both of the parents will always love them. Praise them, spend time with them, pick them up from school, or call them to show them that you care.
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Mother of Two children. I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for Good parenting. I understand child development and know how to develop activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.