Couples and their children experience a difficult journey when a marriage ends. When navigating a divorce, it is hard not to fear for the kids’ well-being.
Even after you attempt reconciliation methods, you may still find it difficult to decide to get a divorce. Unfortunately, the welfare of your children may also not be enough reason to stay in a marriage that is no longer working.
6 ways you can help your children during divorce
So, how can you navigate a divorce while helping your kids heal? Here are six tips on how you can be there for your children the best you can:
- Prioritize what is best for your children. While you and your spouse may feel mentally and emotionally exhausted from irreconcilable differences, it is vital to put the welfare of your children first. Being mindful of how your actions affect them will enable you to negotiate the best decisions about sharing custody and co-parenting, for example.
- Practice self-care. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Be self-aware of your emotional needs and how to deal with uncomfortable feelings. This will also enable you to empathize with everyone navigating this challenging point.
- Reassure kids that it is not their fault. It is common for children to think it might be their fault when parents fight or choose to go their separate ways. This causes them to bear emotionally debilitating amounts of guilt. That is why, when discussing divorce with your kids, it is crucial to emphasize that it is not their fault.
- Reinforce to your kids that you love them. It is easy to feel that love and care are scarce when a marriage ends. This inevitable disharmony begs you and your spouse to double the effort in reassuring the kids that you love them no matter what.
- Avoid venting to your children. Venting to a child is often a symptom of parentification. According to an article from Psychology Today, pushing a child into a role of a parent may cause them to feel helpless and hopeless, develop a lowered sense of worth and self-esteem and affect how they approach their future relationships. Rather than venting to your child, try to seek the company of a trusted friend or family member who can listen to you without judgment and will not be dismissive of the complex emotions you are going through.
- Seek mediation or counseling. If you experience difficulties navigating your own emotional needs and those of your children, it may be best to seek help from a counselor. Trained counselors assist families in the transitions that come with a divorce. Even parents who are empathetic and great communicators still prefer to get help from counselors or mediators to ensure the best possible outcome for their family.
Navigating a divorce may be difficult for you, your spouse and your children. As this shift can cause disharmony, frustration and disappointment, creating a space of empathy, understanding and kindness is vital. This is especially important to help your kids understand divorce and manage the unpleasant emotions this transition might cause them.