Divorce is devastating to all parties involved, even when it needs to happen. For children it can be an especially sad, stressful and a very confusing time and can have a terrible fear of loss and failure. They may feel shocked, uncertain, or angry or even feel guilty, blaming themselves for the problems at home. Such a transitional time doesn’t happen without some measure of grief and hardship. Also, keep in mind that children from divorced parents tend to also lean toward future failed marriages.
Before choosing divorce or separation, get some counseling. A greater sense of peace endures in a home if things can be worked out. After canceling, if you still feel the need to go separate ways, continue living the principles you learned in counseling. This will help you have a better and stronger relationships in the future.
Kids need extra reassurance during this trying time. It’s not easy to give love to your children and those around you when you are in so much pain. Your patience, reassurance, and listening ear can minimize tension as your children learn to cope with these new circumstances. Here are some suggestions that will help kids and parents survive or even thrive during these hard times:
- Provide routines your kids can rely on so they can feel support from both parents.
- Maintain a working relationship with your ex. You can help kids avoid the stress and anguish that comes with watching parents fight.
- Kids need both parents to stay involved.
- Do not speak or act negatively toward the other parent when kids are present.
- Communicate directly with the other parent, the kids do not need to be the go between. They are not the messengers.
- Younger children need fewer details of the decision to divorce, and older kids may need more information.
- Help kids to grieve through these intense feelings of loss. Help them express what they are feeling.
- Above all, let them know it is not their fault that you are getting a divorce. This decision is entirely between the two of you. Make sure the kids feel loved by both of you.
- Many kids believe that they had something to do with the divorce, recalling times they argued with parents or each other or when they did not do well at school.
- Continue to support children in their needs and letting them know they are loved; this can increase the connection between them and both parents.
- Never vent negative feelings to your child. They are not your therapist.
- Resist the temptation to spoil kids during a divorce by not enforcing limits or allowing them to break rules. This will cause greater gaps, confusion, and discontent between all involved.
- Exercise often and eat healthy. These two things can help level out the hormones and to calm you down, especially if it is done with the kids.
- Keep a journal of all the good things you do together. Yes, it is important to also write down your feelings and thoughts. Just keep in mind that the stories of our experiences that we repeat causes us to live them over and over again. When we retell about how terrible it was to be married to so and so, we stay stuck in that pain. Who wants to relive all of that? Start finding the good and replacing that with the old painful experiences. Parents and kids need to work in the present to find joy and happiness and not continue to live in the past pain.
- Continue to associate with friends. Again, not repeating painful stories to them. Ask them to not bring up the breakup. They will understand.
Look for red flags that your children are struggling more than you thought.
- Sleep problems
- Increase in bed-wetting
- Trouble at school
- Suicidal tendency
- Angry outburst
- Withdrawal from others
- Loss of interest in once loved activities
If any of these appear, you and your child may need to seek professional help.
None of us ever go into a marriage thinking that it won’t work. When we are first in love, we feel that everything is so perfect. Then the hormones settle down, life hits us and we easily forget how much we loved each other. We find out that we are both human. You need to get some of these feelings of love back even if it is just to the help the kids feel safe and loved. Learn problem solving techniques and teach children at the same time. Your own emotions and frustration need to take a back seat. The biggest way to find peace and share with your kids is to forgive. Forgiveness is for you not the person who hurt you. If this seems impossible, please reach out for help.
One step at a time.