Couples in divorce typically get caught up in the stress of the situation.  For couples in a divorce with children, the stress can be intensified by the natural desire to make sure the children are taken care of. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to not be swept away by the emotional upheaval you feel, legal deadlines and uncertainty faced in a divorce.

A certain amount of grief at the ‘death’ of their parents’ relationship is to be expected; it is difficult to eliminate or avoid their suffering. As a parent in a divorce, there are things you can do to help your children face and deal with the situation.

As loving, responsible parents, you can cooperate for the benefit of the children in several ways. Deciding to cooperate for the sake of your children will help to protect their emotional wellbeing.  This helps by maintaining their sense of security and need for unconditional love. The marriage may be over, but the parental relationship is “till death do us part.”

Child and youth counselors emphasize that children need lasting relationships with both parents. Courts understand this, which is why joint custody, or shared parental responsibility, is the preferred provision (with some exceptions) in a divorce.

Ideally, your relationship as parents should be business-like and cooperative. Your children should not witness hostility between you and the other parent.  They also should not hear negative statements about either parent.

As parents, you will both need to deal with education, medical, religious and moral issues that concern the children’s wellbeing. While it may be difficult in terms of scheduling, it’s probably a good idea to have regularly scheduled conversations or meetings for the purpose of discussing child-related issues. For meetings in person, use a neutral location.  If emotions prohibit calm conversation, there are often family counselors available to facilitate these important meetings.

Your child may have many questions and worries related to the divorce. Compassionate responses are required.  In addition, a certain maturity may be required from both you and the other parent to put aside your own issues and help your children gain some understanding about a situation over which they have no control.

Unfortunately, many children experience guilt, and often blame themselves for the marital breakup of their parents.  Counseling – whether group or individual – may be a good option, and can be an effective way to lessen this destructive burden. The objectivity of the counselor may help the child open up and share their feelings. As children mature, their questions will differ so the issue of your divorce is never really over.  A commitment on behalf of both parents to open communication with the children will reassure them greatly.

Besides counseling, there are plenty of books and DVDs that can help you help your kids.  In choosing resources, keep in mind that the age of a child is important in how to approach the topic of divorce

The important thing is to be mindful of these issues from the start so that you can help your child as soon as you see or sense that they need help.

Related:

Children & Divorce: Helping your child cope

Children & Divorce: Co-parenting to help them thrive

Domestic Violence and Children

 

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