In every divorce, parents often experience a wide range of emotions. It’s undeniably a tumultuous time. And your children will likely experience their own emotional turmoil separate from yours.
As a practicing family lawyer for over 20 years, I’ve also experienced my own parents’ divorce at a young age. Here are the 6 things kids I’ve found kids need most from divorcing parents:
1. Assurance that the divorce is not their fault.
It’s very common for kids to personalize their part in the divorce and blame themselves. For example, your child might believe if only he didn’t misbehave, you wouldn’t be getting a divorce.
It’s essential to let your children know they are not to blame for the divorce. That you and your spouse made the decision and believe it’s best for the family.
2. To know their feelings are perfectly okay.
Kids need to know that however they might be feeling from one moment to the next is natural. It’s important to assure them they can tell you whatever is on their minds.
It might be difficult to hear if your child blames you, for instance, or lashes out at you. It’s important not to take it personally. It’s even more important not to respond defensively. It’s generally best to simply listen to your child and lend a supportive and non-judgmental ear.
3. Assurance that both parents will always love them.
Younger children, in particular, might worry if they do something bad or you get mad at them, you’ll stop loving them and perhaps even leave them too. So, it’s very important to reassure your children you will both always be their parents and always love them.
4. Safety and Security.
All children generally thrive on consistency, structure, and routine. So, when parents are divorcing, all of a sudden, things become unpredictable and scary.
Therefore, it’s important to figure out right away with your spouse how often and when the kids will be spending time with each parent. The more details you can give them, the better they’re likely to feel. In the meantime, make sure their daily routines stay as normal as possible. Now more than ever, kids need structure at a time when things seem to be falling apart.
5. To be kids.
Kids need to be insulated as much as possible from “adult” matters between you and your spouse. It’s important not to talk to them about how angry you might be with your spouse or the legal details about the divorce.
They especially need to be spared from a role of supporting you emotionally. Kids need to be given the freedom to just be kids. So they can focus on navigating their own developmental stages.
6. To see light at the end of the tunnel.
Kids need to know that divorce is not completely a bad thing. That things can and will eventually be better.
As your kids gradually accept the reality of divorce, they need to be included in your plans. For example, you might talk to them about their new room in your home and allow them to decorate it. You might take cues from what they might become excited about as they accept how their lives will begin to change.
Difficult though it can be when going through a divorce, knowing your kids have what they need can help ease the transition for everyone.
Thanks for reading! Please share this post with others who might find it helpful.