From the moment you first break the news of the impending divorce to your little ones, they will have lots of thoughts, concerns, and frustrations. And you and your ex will need to help them see that there are also a lot of good times to be enjoyed during and after the break-up. Follow these dos and don'ts to help your children do well, enjoy life, and thrive during and after a divorce.
Do Give Your Kids the Chance to Make Choices Every Day
It's no secret that many kids feel a loss of control when their parents get a divorce. Children aren't generally consulted before parents file for divorce. However, you can help your kids regain some sense of control by allowing them to make choices every day.
These choices don't have to be something extreme. You can let your kids choose among three different types of cereal in the morning. Let your kids choose the radio station or playlist to listen to on the way to school. Allow children to choose a restaurant to eat in once per week. Little choices can help build confidence and a sense of control.
Don't Dismiss Your Kids' Feelings and Emotions
When you don't want to look at the pain your kids are feeling because it hurts too much, you might be tempted to try to put a temporary bandage on the problem by telling your kids to look on the bright side. However, that doesn't work. Children need to be free to express all of the many emotions they feel during a divorce.
Don't try to brush away your kids' anger, hurt, sadness, or frustration by telling them to look on the bright side. Instead, listen patiently and express empathy for what your kids are feeling. You can't make everything better, but you can validate their feelings.
Do Communicate With Your Ex
Sometimes divorced parents don't communicate about their kids, which is a mistake. If you don't exchange information about what the kids are doing, you will both be missing out. What's worse, your kids will be the ultimate losers in that scenario.
The more information you have about your kids and what recently happened in their lives, the better you can parent them. Extend a gesture of goodwill and share information about your children with your ex. Ask questions about what your kids have been doing with your ex.
Don't Talk Negatively About Your Ex in Front of the Kids
When your ex does something thoughtless that has a negative impact on your kids, you are naturally furious. However, don't give in to the temptation to speak negatively or passive-aggressively about your ex in front of your kids.
According to Psychology Today, some examples of passive-aggressive behavior can be as simple as a backhanded compliment. It can also be saying something mean, then adding a second comment to say that you were only joking.
Do Offer Your Kids Multiple Chances to Go to Therapy
Offer your children the chance to go to therapy when you tell them about the divorce. Depending on your situation, you may suggest both family therapy and individual counseling. If your kids don't immediately want to go, you may offer it several more times throughout the divorce and even after it is finalized.
It's important to take care of yourself during a divorce, too. When you are thriving, you are better able to be there for your children and help them be their best selves. If you are considering a divorce or are worried about any aspects of family law, contact Melder & Melder, P.C. We can help you protect the best interests of yourself and your children.