How To Make Divorce Easier On Kids
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kelli Byers Hooper with KBH Law, Inc.
Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, especially the children. Kids may not understand the concept of divorce, or they may act out when it becomes clear that the change to the family structure will be permanent. Below are a few ways to make divorce easier on children.
Tailor Your Conversation To Their Level Of Understanding
Older kids and teenagers will most likely understand what divorce is and are probably able to understand how divorce may affect their daily life and that of their parents. However, for younger kids, it is important to explain divorce on a level they’ll understand, without allowing adult concepts to confuse or mislead them. This way, a child will have a straightforward, appropriate understanding of how divorce will impact their family.
Help Them Understand That Divorce Isn’t Their Fault
Children, especially younger ones, often blame themselves for cases of divorce. They should be made to understand that their behavior or perceived “mistakes” haven’t led to a family “breakup,” and that they are loved just as much by both parents.
Remain Kind To Both Partners
There are many reasons for divorce, and some stir up more emotions than others. Regardless of the reason, take care to show kindness and empathy to your partner, especially around your child (if you are an outsider, show equal amounts of kindness to both). This will ensure that neither parent is made a villain, and the child will be able to take comfort in knowing that his or her parents can remain friendly even after a separation.
Consult a Family Therapist
If you are involved in a divorce, your perceptions of the concept may be informed by your own experience and opinions. If your child is struggling, or you think that you haven’t adequately explained what is going on, allow your child to see an outside counselor, therapist, or another similar figure. These adults are trained and equipped to help kids deal with traumatic or confusing situations. They will be able to give a child a fresh and helpful perspective.
Treat The Child As You Always Have
Divorce can be a large stressor on parents and kids, and cause them to feel angry, depressed, or anxious. Proper, conscious care and support will show kids that they can count on parents and authority figures during a stressful time, and it signals to them that potential conflict between their parents will not extend to them. They will feel a sense of stability in knowing that their parents have not turned away from or forgotten about them.
There is no one, simple way to talk to a child about divorce and its impacts. Different children may struggle to different degrees. However, if we act with reason, care, and calm, we can ensure that these affected children remain stable throughout the process of the divorce and on into their own adulthood.
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kelli Byers Hooper