If you're a parent who's getting a divorce, there's a good chance that this comes as no surprise to your children. Often, the writing has been on the wall for some time, but still, divorce can come as a big shock to kids when they finally get the news.
They may not know how to feel. They may be glad that all of the fighting will stop, but sill sad that their family is breaking apart. Children of divorce often feel guilty, like it's all their fault that their parents decided to split up. They may also feel hurt, betrayed, sad and confused.
As a parent that is getting divorce, please do these things for your kids. They will thank you one day.
1. Tell that that the divorce is not their fault.
Children of divorce frequently think it's their fault. Maybe if they had tried harder at school, talked back less, listened more, and fought less with their siblings. Children are creative at coming up with reasons why they have to be responsible.
Make it clear to your children that the divorce has nothing to do with them. They need to hear that your decision has to do with how you feel about each other, not about their behavior or their grades!
2. Tell them that you love them.
You both need to tell your children that you love them very much and that you always will. During your divorce, they're going to need to hear this more often than ever before. Some children will be so busy blaming themselves, that they convince themselves that their parents don't love them anymore.
What your child needs to hear from the both of you is that even though you'll be living under two different roofs, you still love them and that will never change.
3. Don't badmouth your ex.
How would you like your ex to say bad things about you? Your children don't need or want to hear it from either of you, nothing good will come out of it. Your children need to feel nothing but love and respect for both of their parents, regardless of the mistakes they made in their marriage.
4. Don't ask your kid to be a spy or messenger.
Kids need to be kids, they should not be your messenger or spy. Let your children concern themselves with the business of growing up while you handle adult matters directly with your ex.
5. Open access is important.
You and your ex should agree to let your kids have access to the both of you at all times. When they are at one parent's house, they should feel encouraged to call their other parent if they want to; open access only eases the pain and transition of divorce for your kids.
For more family law advice, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP!