This is part two of my advice for dealing with your children in divorce. I’ve already made my disclaimer that I’m not a therapist by any means. I do have children of my own. I do help my clients deal with their children’s issues in the course of my representation during divorce or other family law cases. So, for what it’s worth, here is my advice.
We discussed the “don’ts” an couple weeks back, so let’s talk about the “do’s” today.
1. Do make sure that you discuss the divorce with your kids. You want to explain it to them in a way that they will understand, tell them what to expect and let them ask questions. This is a life change for them. As kids, they may not have realized that your marriage was having difficulty. This is the time to talk, explain and assure them that though it will be different, everything will be okay,
2. Do tell your kids that the divorce is not their fault and not about them. Seems logical, right? A lot of time we forget to say the simple things to our children. Make sure they know that the issues and the decisions were made because of the adult problems and not because of anything that they did.
3. Do encourage your children to spend time with the other parent. If you want my opinion, the absolute worst thing that you can do is give your child a hard time for visiting with the other parent, enjoying his/her time with the other parent, looking forward to seeing the other parent. Of course (!) they want to be with them….and don’t think for a minute that when they are with the other parent, they aren’t missing you.
4. Do try to be cordial, at least, with the other parent in front of your kids. You don’t need to put on fake airs here but a head bob, wave or smile won’t kill you. It will, however, go a long way for your child. These little niceties will take away stress for your child and allow them to be carefree about the stress they saw between you in marriage or divorce. Even if they didn’t witness any strife, it will help them to know that all is well.
5. Do get a therapist involved with your kids, and even with the other parent, if issues crop up. It always seems absurd to go to “family therapy” after divorce, but that is when most families will need it the most (if ever!). If your kids need a pace to vent, maybe even without you there, this is a safe option that is probably covered through your medical insurance. If there are issues with getting used to two homes, anger, stress, confusion, etc., the therapist may be best to help your child through.
6. Ask your friends. I typically say “don’t listen to your friends,” but this is actually an area where I’d say to talk to other parents to get ideas of how to conquer the issues at hand. Get ideas, input and advice to find options that might work for your family.
It won’t be easy but you will get through this phase of divorce. Have patience and be kind to yourself during this difficult time. As always, I am just a click (or call) away if you have questions!