Divorce is notorious for being a very stressful experience, but when you are a parent that is getting a divorce, you not only have to worry about your own feelings, you have to address your children's feelings as well.
Even if living with your spouse can be compared to World War III, your child may still be very upset by the prospect of divorce. Each year, thousands of children experience stress from divorce, and how they react depends on a variety of factors. The child's age, their relationship with each parent, and the circumstances surrounding the divorce can all affect how well a child handles their parents' divorce.
Your divorce will affect your children, and don't be surprised if their initial reaction is shock, anger, sadness, or worry – even if your child has witnessed a lot of fighting between you and your spouse.
Here are some things that you and your spouse can do to help your child ease the pain and transition of divorce:
- Don't argue in front of your children.
- Keep heated discussions out of sight and ear shot.
- Don't have legal discussions in front of the kids.
- Reassure your child that you love them unconditionally.
- Listen to what your children have to say.
- Minimize disrupting the children's daily routines.
- Don't belittle or badmouth the other parent.
- Ensure that each parent maintains continuing contact with the kids.
Divorcing adults need support themselves while going through divorce. Seek emotional support from friends, family, professionals, or your church, but don't seek support from your children, even if they want to be there for you.
It is important to minimize the stress on the kids as much as possible. If they see that you are cheerful and their environment is stable, the transition will be much easier on them.