helpingchildren struggling with divorce

How To Help Children Struggling With Divorce

At the end of the day, divorce may be the right option, but it is unlikely to be an easy option, particularly when there are children involved. Divorce can have a brutal impact on children’s lives and can scar them into adulthood – unless it is handled the right way.

Put the bitterness aside 

This statement may seem like the world’s biggest case of “easier said than done”, particularly if you have good reason to hold a grievance against your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, but it is essential for your children’s sake. Whatever wrong they have done to you, they are still your children’s parents.

Keep it together as parents

Children need consistency. While it’s fine for each parent to have their own parenting style, perhaps one being a bit more strict and the other a bit more relaxed, any basic ground rules should be respected by both parents and any differences of opinion resolved away from the children. Parents who try to score points against each other via their children, e.g. by saying yes when the other says no, can simply end up making children insecure and can cause behavioural issues as children learn to play one parent off against the other.

Stick to routines

It’s practically inevitable that divorce is going to cause some degree of disruption to your children’s lives but do whatever you can to minimize it. Arrange any necessary meetings outside of the times you need to take your children to their activities and hold to normal mealtimes and bedtimes as much as possible.

Be honest and open

Children are often superb at detecting lies and evasiveness. Even if they’re “little white lies” or it’s a subject you’re uncomfortable discussing, you need to find a way to manage and satisfy their natural curiosity, which may well be driven by fear. Divorce takes children into the unknown and that can be a scary place. If you need thinking time, then park the question and tell your children that you’ll talk about it later, set reasonable expectations about when “later” will be and make good on your promise. If the honest answer to a question is “I don’t know”, then make a point of finding out as soon as possible. Children need to feel that they can count on their parents even at the best of times and a divorce situation is anything but the best of times.

Provide lots of reassurance

Divorce is about parents, it’s never about children. Children need to feel confident that whatever happens between their parents, nothing is going to change the relationship they have with either or both parents. Point out how changes will be managed, for example if one parent moves out, they can still take their turn at reading bedtime stories over the internet. You might also want to provide examples of people successfully managing divorces, either people they know or celebrity couples.

Be alert to your children showing signs of stress

With everything you may have to manage, it may be easy to miss the signs that your children are experiencing real stress (or even depression) rather than just feeling generally miserable about the situation, or you may dismiss your observations as your imagination. Be vigilant about their emotional welfare and get a second opinion if necessary, even if the divorce is going as well as can be expected, they may still benefit from counselling.

Author Bio K J Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law, with an expert team of family law professionals who are experienced in all aspects of family and divorce law.