10 Ways to support your children through a divorce
Mar 15, 2021
Going through a divorce when you have children definitely makes things more challenging and complicated. It means that you can’t cut off all contact with your ex to help your healing and that you’re going to have to make that contact work for the sake of the children. If your split wasn’t amicable this can really test you. You both have to put the children first in this situation – but it can take a huge amount of strength and diplomacy.
Here are 10 tips to help you support your children through your divorce and beyond:
- Try to get on with your ex – I know how difficult this can be and it just isn’t possible for some couples. But if your relationship really can’t be amicable, then try to be civil to each other in front of the children. Don’t hide behind the door so you don’t have to see your ex when they drop the children off – that’s not great for the children. Whatever happens between you, always put the children first. Do the right thing by them - rather than being led by your emotions - and you won’t go far wrong.
- Don’t bad mouth your ex – this puts your children in a really difficult situation. They may feel that they have to choose between you, or that they can’t talk to you about their other parent.
- Be excited for them when they are spending time with the other parent – Be excited with them about what they’ll be doing at the weekend with their other parent. Be happy when you drop them off or they’re picked up – even if you have to fake it to start with. If the children see you sad and clingy when they leave, then they’ll feel guilty about spending time with the other parent and will worry about you. That’s too much pressure to put on a child.
- Don’t overshare what is happening in the divorce – children don’t necessarily need to know the details of what happened to cause your split - for example if one of you has had an affair - especially if they're young. You don’t need to share the details about the financials, custody arrangements or court dates etc. This will only cause them unnecessary worry and stress.
- Encourage them to talk to you and listen PROPERLY – Let the children know that you are always there for them to discuss any concerns or worries they have and that it’s safe for them to do so. Don’t invalidate their feelings by telling them that they’re being silly – reassure them that everything will be ok. Try not to get emotional during these discussions – they need to see that you are being strong and positive for them. If this is difficult you need to ‘Act as if’ and eventually it will become your reality.
- Maintain a routine where possible – once you have agreed the childcare arrangements with your ex then try and stick to them. It’s important that the children have routine and a sense of normality during this period of change in their lives. Children don’t like change and find it difficult, so do what you can to minimise any anxiety around the changes happening in their life.
- Consider whether you can still celebrate birthdays and holidays together – some couples understandably can’t do this after their divorce. But if your split was amicable, then you might consider spending some time together on the children’s birthdays or at Christmas. At least the child doesn’t then feel like they’re missing out not spending time with both parents.
- Decide how you will parent together – have a discussion about whether you will co- parent or parallel parent and explain the implications of your decision to the children.
- Don’t use the children to deliver messages between you – keep the children out of anything that’s going on between you, for example you need money for the upcoming school trip. Make alternative arrangements to have that type of communication. Let the kids be kids and don’t involve them in adult issues like that.
- Make the most of your ME time – use the quality time you have on your own to rest and recharge or make arrangements to see friends or take up new hobbies. Either way, make sure you enjoy and cherish this time, instead of moping because you don’t have the children. This will only help to make you a better parent when they’re back with you.
Divorce in itself is the second most traumatic and stressful event that you can experience in your lifetime. You have all of your own emotions and concerns to cope with, as well as those of your children. No matter what ages your children are, the divorce will have an impact on them. But it’s up to you and your ex to try and work together to minimise any negative effects on them. This will probably mean biting your tongue on many occasions and letting things go - which won’t come easily - but as long as you have your children’s best interests at heart it will be worth it.
If you’re going through a divorce at the moment and struggling to cope you can download my free gift to you – 10 Simple Secrets to Let Go of Heartbreak & Start Moving on With Your Life After Your Separation.
I also have a free Facebook group you can join – The Breakup and Divorce Lounge. It’s a community of women all in the same situation to support and encourage each other in a safe and non-judgemental space. https://bit.ly/thebreakupanddivorcelounge