Going through a divorce is never easy nor straightforward. Especially if you have a kid. But more often than not, the decision to go your separate ways is actually more sensible than staying together just for the sake of staying together.
As much as your kids might be confused or devastated because you and your spouse have decided to call it quits, in the long-run, you have probably made the right call if living together simply doesn’t work anymore. But, there is no need to worry.
With the right approach, patience, and understanding, you should be able to protect your child during and after the divorce.
Why protecting your child during divorce is so important
Admittedly, getting a divorce will have an impact on your family dynamics. This is simply unavoidable, yet, it is up to you (and your spouse, if possible) to take control and make sure your kids do not suffer throughout the process.
Yes, holding a grudge and placing all the blame on your ex partner might seem tempting now that you are getting separated. However, keep in mind that most kids tend to soak up the negative energy and resentment they are exposed to. This can harbor insecurity in your child. It can even instigate the child to feel as if it is their fault you two are getting a divorce.
Naturally, this is the last thing you want your child to conclude. For that reason, it makes sense to pay close attention to your child’s inner world and their emotions during the divorce.
Ask your ex to get involved
Even if you cannot stand seeing your soon-to-be-ex partner even for a couple of minutes, try to bring peace to the table by discussing, or at the very least, suggesting what course of action you two should undertake to protect your child.
You can minimize the stress your kids might experience during the divorce by developing your own co-parenting scheme, an agreement you will do your best to stick to.
Seeing that their parents are civil to each other for their sake will make your kids feel less uncertain about the future. Aside from agreeing to share the concern for your child with your ex, there are other strategies that can also help.
Devise a schedule for your kids
Without a schedule to follow, your kids may get lost in the novelty and unpredictability of the situation. Wrapping your brain around the idea that nothing will be the same as it used to be can be much less painful if your day is filled with purposeful activities.
In fact, research has shown that kids who follow a clear-cut daily routine are two times more likely to develop healthy social and emotional skills.
Therefore, giving your child a structure they can rely on during the divorce should help them come to grips with the transition and everything that comes with it. Of course, each parent should adjust the schedule in line with the demands of their parenting time.
Nevertheless, having an outline to follow up provides the kids with a sense of certainty and thus, safety.
Make the two homes equal and familiar
As a parent, you want your kids to feel at home when they are…well, at home.
Now that they will have two homes, you should make an effort to provide them with everything they need. Having to pack their things everytime they switch houses might make them feel like they don’t belong in either.
You may not see it, they may not be aware of it, but this act can provoke feelings of alienation instead of a sense of belonging.
Of course, this does not mean you have to replicate the look and feel of the two homes. Feeling at home is more about feeling comfortable at the place you are at than about anything else.
So, make sure they have enough clothing, favorite toys, board games, and electronic devices they enjoy interacting with. It will be easier for them to grasp that you and your partner are no longer together if they can relax and be themselves in both of your homes.
Encourage them to play
Playing allows children to satisfy their natural curiosity as well as give them an opportunity to explore their emotions, fears, and affinities through something completely innocuous - play.
In fact, exploring their inner lives in this way is a necessary (but not sufficient) precondition for healthy emotional development. And in the midst of a divorce, getting lost in an imaginary world helps the child live through unfamiliar and difficult emotions.
Most children cannot rationalize and, in turn, verbalize what is bothering them, what they are afraid of, or what frustrates them. In this regard, what we see as impossible tantrums or uncalled for silent treatments may actually be the only way for the child to express what they feel.
That is why you should offer the child space and resources to play by themselves and with their peers, and perhaps most importantly, with you.
No matter how bottled up their emotions are, joining them in their games will allow you to have an insight into their thoughts, ideas, and feelings as they are probably likely to let their guards down and allow you into their inner world.
Keep your kids up to date
I mentioned previously that it makes sense to devise an ‘action plan’, a structure, and an agreement as to how you will approach and discuss the difficult subject of divorce with your kids.
As much as you may fear how they might react to such an announcement, forever postponing the ‘big talk’ might just make the entire divorce more shocking and complicated to manage.
Allow some time for the news to settle down and your kids to adjust to their new reality. Therefore, be upfront with your kids about when and where you will live, and what they can expect in the future.
Finally, get all the help you can get. It is difficult trying to manage both your, your ex’s and your children’s feelings during divorce. Look into co-parenting apps such as FamiliPay.
They can help with great tips, and they automate administrative tasks so that you can focus on what actually matters: your child. Try our three month free trial today!