Sometimes, parents must break up to keep their family together. However, such changes do not only affect them but also the other members of the family – the children. Separation or divorce can significantly impact your children’s emotional health. It may also make them feel like it is their fault that their parents have broken up.
So, dealing with the effects of a divorce in the family is extremely necessary to help them understand why it has to happen. Here are some of the things that you must do to help your family face divorce.
Talk With Your Family About It
The first thing you have to do is sit down with your whole family and talk to them about it. It is imperative to explain to the children that the divorce is not their fault and is a mutual decision between the parents. Say why you have to separate with your partner and remind them that the separation does not mean that you love your children less.
The divorce may make your children feel unstable and unsafe in their environment. So you must explain to them that although lots of things will change in their lives, love will remain. Assure them that both you and your partner will be there to support them while dealing with the new things. Remind them that they will never be alone despite the separation.
The words that you choose while talking with your kids also matter. You may need lesser detail when talking with younger kids than with older ones. Also, discuss the necessary logistical information with them, such as living arrangements, school changes if there are any, and activity changes.
Acknowledge Your Child’s Emotions And Offer Support
After talking with your family about it, sit down and hear them out. Ask your children about their worries and questions and let them say what they want without you interfering. It is essential to give your children time to voice themselves. Never skip this step. You may think that your child is strong and resilient, but divorce is such a significant change.
Ann Gold Buscho Ph.D. notes, “Kids go through the divorce directly: experiencing for themselves neglect or abuse, a parent moves out or has an affair, parents are not emotionally available because of mental illness or repeated lawsuits. Kids’ communication with each parent is seriously cut with shared custody, and this is a tremendous loss for them.”
So never downplay your children’s emotions or ignore them. Acknowledge how divorce affects them and offer emotional support.
Avoid The Blaming Game
You must also remember that when you start talking with your children about the separation, never start the blaming game. Parental fighting, in addition to the news of divorce, has adverse effects on your kid’s mental health. It creates a very stressful environment for them that may also affect how they view their relationship with their parents and their future relationships with other people.
It will be a bit easier for your family to get through a divorce better if both parents try to be civil with each other, especially when in front of the kids. Whenever you feel like a fight is coming, take a deep breath and slow down. Do not put more burden on your children’s shoulders by fighting with your ex-partner.
Further along, the way, remember not to badmouth your previous partner. Your words have power over your kids, especially younger ones. Do not make them lose the relationship they have with the other parent just because you do not love them anymore.
Monitor Children’s Behavior
After the divorce, you must carefully monitor your children’s behaviors for possible emotional instability. Your kids may show you a happy face when talking with you, but that does not mean that they are coping well. Some may stop participating or doing activities that they usually like to do.
Alternatively, they may start distancing themselves from the other family members and stay in their rooms at all times. These are warning signs of depression that must be dealt with accordingly.
Your children may also start avoiding doing their school work, impacting their grades. Teenagers may start using substances and do other reckless behaviors to compensate for the feelings that they have. When these do happen, avoid fighting with your children and instead give them understanding. When things are already out of hand, seek professional help.
Seek Professional Help
Finally, whether your children seem fine or not, seek professional help. There may be emotions that they are not showing because they do not understand them. Do not try to fix everything on your own because you may be doing more damage than good to them. Also, with a divorce in the family, talking with strangers may be more comfortable for your kids.
Therapists can help your children voice their feelings and teach them ways to cope with those negativities. Seeking professional help after a divorce will also be beneficial in the long run, as they will be able to process their feelings appropriately.
Your family will need to process all the worries that they have because of the divorce. The best thing that you can offer them is love, understanding, and support. Changes will be hard, but together, you and your family can get through it.