One can expect that at least 40% of married couples in the US will end up in divorce. It means that thousands of families are doomed because they will have a broken family. This situation can lead to more issues not just for the parents, but also and most especially, for their children. The most affected here are the young ones as they always end up living with one parent only, and not to mention the severity of their future mental health problems.
Divorce is painful, and as parents, you have to expect a multitude of reactions from your children once you tell them what’s going to happen. As Tiffany Lowther, MA, LMHC elaborates it, “Divorce is emotional, and for most parents and certainly for their children, it is the most emotion they have ever experienced or confronted all at once.” Their initial feelings on the matter may include sadness, anger, frustration, shock, and worry. You are considered blessed if your children won’t act out and do bad things upon learning of your split up. But you can help them through this terrible reality; just be understanding and patient with them.
- Never talk about legal and divorce matters in front of the kids.
- It is better to converse about details of your separation through your lawyers where your kids can’t hear you argue.
- Do your best to continue with your kids daily routine amidst the divorce talks.
- Don’t poison your child’s mind regarding your husband’s infidelity or wife’s personality.
- Go to Divorce Counseling and if you want, include your child in Family Counseling or subject them to one-on-one therapy sessions.
- You should both still be very much involved in your children’s lives and activities.
- Find a way to be civil in front of the children.
How To Break The Divorce News
There is no sweet way to do it. You’ll just have to do it like a family meeting style and explain to your kids that the two of you will have to live apart and proceed with divorce matters. Find the will to discuss the issue without having to blame your spouse for the divorce. The “break” must be done maturely, and this encounter is about the kids – telling them how much the two of you love them even if you two will be living separate lives from now on. Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC said, “There are several ways that parents unintentionally encourage kids to be in the middle of a divorce. Kids already feel this way organically because they’re caught between two warring parties, which sometimes results in them taking on adult-like responsibility and can damage them permanently from a developmental perspective.”
Also, tell the children that in no way it is their fault that the two of you are divorcing. Just explain to them that life is sometimes moving people to different directions and that some things are not going to work out.
Handling Your Children After Breaking The Divorce News
Upon breaking the news, the kids will be distraught. That’s for sure. They will cry, and they will be worried about what will happen to them. The kids will also have many questions in which you need to answer truthfully. For example:
- Where will I live?
- Will I have to change schools?
- Do I have to move?
- Where will each of you live?
- How will Thanksgiving and Christmas be like for us now?
- Can I still see my friends?
- How about my camp for this summer?
- Will my activities (dance, swimming, basketball, piano lessons and so on) be affected?
It can be overwhelming for you to answer all the questions they have, but you have to be honest and truthful as to your answer. By doing so, you are laying down the situation at hand, and frankly, it is the right thing to do.
Coping With Your Kids
Divorce is a grievable life event. Just reassure your children that you will try your best to be their mom or dad and that no matter what will happen, you will always love them unconditionally. Don’t make the same mistakes that others before you have done in the past. Stop with the fighting for now, as you both address your children’s welfare. You can do these things to help them cope and make them accept the fact that this is truly happening:
- Encourage them to open up their feelings and be honest. They have to let it out because keeping their feelings bottle up can cause an array of mental health issues. “Assure that BOTH you and your child are calm when speaking about behaviors. Convey understanding of their feelings and ask them what they think will help them to manage their emotions. Communicating while calm always results in more successful plans.” Barb Roba, LMCH said.
- Listen to them while they talk and if they can’t put their opinions into words, just ask the right questions – You seem sad. Can you share with me why you are feeling sad?
- Validate their feelings and tell them that you care about how they think.
- Offer them your support. Ask them how you can make things better for them like a hug, a kiss, a phone call, a teddy bear, and more.
- You and your children must have a healthy mind and body during this time. Divorce can be a downer for everyone, and with a weak physical body, it can cause various ailments.
- Ask for help from a professional therapist or counselor.
We hope that these tips can help alleviate the pain that you and your children are experiencing during this challenging event. With time and effort, your kids will heal from this life trial.