Divorce is a painful, confusing, and stressful time for everyone—especially the children. No matter the age of your children, your kids may feel uncertain, confused, or even angry that mom and dad are breaking up.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to make the separation as painless as possible for your children. But how do you do that? It's not easy, but it is possible.
Here are a few do's and don'ts for helping your children cope with the ugly truth that is divorce:
You can make your children happier and healthier during divorce by keeping the following do's in mind.
- DO shower your children with love and affection. Your children need to know that both mom and dad love them. They also need to know that the divorce is not their fault. You can accomplish this feat by spending a lot of quality time with your children—and don't forget to give them plenty of hugs and kisses.
- DO allow your children to see your ex-spouse. Just because you don't love your spouse anymore, doesn't mean your children feel the same way. Splitting up is hard on your kids—and it is even harder if you restrict visitation to your ex-spouse. So allow, and even encourage, your children to spend quality time with your ex-spouse. If you feel uncomfortable with the thought of it, hire a family attorney and set up designated areas for visitation.
- DO take good care of yourself. Divorce is rough, but is important that you take care of yourself. By doing so, you are setting a good example for your children. You are also showing them the importance of staying in good health—even when things are tough. So eat right, get enough sleep, and consider therapy if you need it.
By following these do's, you can ensure that you remain healthy during your divorce; and more importantly, that your children know they are loved and wanted.
The above list is a good start for helping your children feel loved during this rough transition time, but it isn't complete without some don'ts. Here are a few things you should definitely not do during this time:
- DON'T criticize your spouse. Your children know that they are part of both you and your spouse. Hearing you criticize or bash your ex-spouse can be very detrimental to your child. It can also make your child feel confused, as they still love your ex-spouse.
- DON'T use your child as a messenger. During the heat of the moment, you may tell your children to pass along a message to your ex-spouse. Although it may be tempting to use your child as a messenger, it is a bad idea. Doing so can make your child feel used, confused, or even angry with you. It can also make them feel like the separation is their fault.
- DON'T move away. If possible, do not move and uproot your children during the divorce. Your children need stability now, more than ever. Even if you want to move away to be further away from your spouse, don't. After all, your children still need both of you—along with their friends, school, and routine activities.
Divorce is definitely not fun for anyone; but that doesn't mean it has to painful for your children. Keep these do's and don'ts in mind during—and after—your divorce, so that your children don't feel confused, hurt, or angry. Be sure to contact a divorce attorney to answer any questions or concerns that you might have.