Taking time to adjust after a divorce is crucial for everyone in the family, and our children deserve to have all of the support they need. Whether it's spending time at two different houses or even having to change schools, divorce can be difficult emotionally as well as logistically for the youngest members of the family.
Although it might feel impossible to do at the time, you can create harmony in your family by implementing some specific strategies around helping your children to adjust. Here are some ways to begin tackling this important change:
- Put their needs first – Whether it's what the plans look like for the summer or they're feeling especially sad about having to split their time between you and your ex, your children's needs should come first during the adjustment period after a divorce. Sit down and discuss with them what their ideal situation might look like. This doesn't mean that your kids become the ones to make all of the decisions, but taking their desires into consideration will go a long way toward creating schedules that meet everyone's needs.
- Do not bad mouth your ex in front of the kids – Emotionally adjusting to the change in your family is probably one of the harder aspects of divorce. Children of any age are very keen to pick up on the hidden messages you're communicating about their other parent, even if you don't blatantly talk negatively about them. Rather than setting up a dynamic of “good cop/bad cop,” allow your children to sort out their own feelings without any negative influences.
- Create expectations – Most children thrive on consistency, so if there's going to be a big change to their schedules and environments, it's best to let them know well ahead of time and gradually remind them as changes are about to happen. Divorce can create feelings of chaos and unpredictability in younger children, so making sure they know what to expect is key.
- Get ready to answer questions – Older children will probably wonder what divorce means for them in the context of their everyday lives, and they might have a lot of questions for you. Questions like if they can still see their same friends, or if they have to move, will all be at the forefront of their minds. If they ask a question that you don't know the answer to, it's okay to be honest with them and explain that you can figure it out together.
- Validate their feelings – Your kids could experience any number of reactions to the news of your divorce, and once they start to engage in their new routines, it's normal for them to go through another adjustment period. Whether they're mad at you or your ex, sad about the breakup, or any other number of feelings, validating their feelings will go a long way toward creating a safe and trusting environment for them.
Are you going through a divorce in North Carolina and need help managing how your children are reacting? Contact our offices today to get the support you need during this trying time.