The American Psychological Association estimates that 40 to 50 percent of couples in the US will divorce. When children are involved, divorce matters that were complex to begin with are heightened. And according to a family law attorney in Denver, amicable resolutions are not always possible in a family law dispute. But how you deal with it can turn a negative situation into one that solidifies your connection with your child.
Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you, your ex-spouse, and your children stay grounded and stable during this time.
1. Talk to your children.
There’s no easy way to say that you’re getting a divorce. But too many parents only mention it in passing, and then only once. What parents should understand is that apart from your own feelings on the matter, your child will be faced with their own issues of what this now means. Sometimes, it could take days for these questions to surface. Your children will need continual reassurance on matters such as how they are not to blame for the divorce. And that this does not change your love for them. Give children as much information on what this split will mean in practical terms. Talk about what parts of their daily routine will change, as these are tangible elements that children can understand and grasp.
2. Acknowledge their feelings.
Being heard and feeling understood will help your child feel validated and that it is okay to feel sad about what is happening. Try to be honest about your feelings, too, which will show them they can be honest with theirs. (So long as you can do so without it turning into a blame session.) Often, children will not know how to express their feelings with words. So your child may act out and use physical outbursts to express inner turmoil. Understanding, patience, and affection will go far to help your child feel secure in your love. But you do not need to let your child walk all over you either. Right now, your child needs to know that you will continue to be the parent you have always been, even when that means establishing firm boundaries.
3. Emphasize stability.
During the first few months to a year after the divorce, emphasize stability. Sticking to regular routines are important, as they create a sense of safety and stability for your children. After school activities, play dates, study groups, and family routines will show your child that life continues. That there will be happy days and good things to look forward to in the future.
4. Create conflict-free zones around your children.
Putting on a brave face is rough, particularly when you feel like you are doing all the heavy lifting in the care of your children. But when you allow that hurt to spill over in front of your children, your children are the ones who get hurt. Imagine that your children’s presence creates a conflict-free zone or a neutral area. In their presence, only nice words should be used and your best self steps forward. During pick ups and drop offs, stick to simple greetings. When complicated issues arise that require negotiation, do so when the children are not present. Preferably by email, if you don’t trust yourself to behave nicely in a face to face conversation.
5. Parenting is a process.
This is a new stage of parenting for both you and your ex-spouse. And while you both now face another challenge on top of the usual ones most parents face, keep in mind that you are united in your love for your child. Keeping the focus on what benefits the child will help your new relationship with your former spouse to change into a parenting teamwork. You are both still on the same team when it comes to wanting the best for your child. So start with that and let the rest grow from there.