Divorce is hard. It’s hard on you, hard on your ex-spouse, and especially hard on your children. There’s not much worse than can happen to a child than to have its parents split up. There are a few things that you can do, however, to make the transition a little easier on them.
Whose fault is it?
First of all, make sure your children know it is not their fault. Most children blame themselves, at some point, for their parents’ divorce. Make sure you tell them repeatedly, that’s not true. If you can, try to explain what happened without blaming yourself or your spouse. For younger children, make sure they understand there is no fixing this.
Whatever you do, don’t vent to your kids. Don’t blame your ex-spouse for the break up, no matter what they did. Your kids need to respect them as a parent, for their good and yours.
Can’t we all just get along?
Try to cooperate with your ex-spouse as much as possible. If they are not doing something illegal or possibly damaging to the children, don’t argue philosophical differences. You’re divorced, and there is a reason for that. But don’t let that reason make you so combative that your children are stuck in the middle.
Don’t make the kids choose which parent to love. The best thing for their mental health is to have, and love, both parents. Don’t pit them against your ex-spouse or even against your ex-spouse’s new partner (if they have one). Children need to respect their parents and step parents for a healthy life.
Who are you again?
Keep your relationship with your children strong. Even if you don’t have custody, you need to work on communicating with them in the time you do have. Don’t just go from activity to activity. Really talk with them and for mutual relationships. It will only get harder as they get older, so start now.
No matter what the reason for your divorce, your children need and deserve your love. Help them to understand that divorce is painful for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be hesitating. Assure them that you still love them and that the divorce will never change that. A strong relationship with your child is the foundation for a healthy, well-adjusted adult.