Minimizing the effects of divorce on children is vital for parents who have decided to separate. The dissolution of a marriage can be painful, but the comfort and protection of your child take precedence overall. What some parents forget is that the best interests of a child are not exclusive to their physical health and well-being paradigm alone. It is also your responsibility to protect their sense of safety and security on an emotional level – regardless of how you may be feeling.
Divorce Doesn’t Have To Damage Children
Despite common belief; divorce itself is not what causes the turmoil that many children carry forward into their own adult lives. What can cause the most irreparable emotional damage is your reaction to the divorce and how you address it.
Children are always listening and should be spared the particulars of the situation at hand. The last thing you want to subject them to are emotionally charged, adult discussions and information not suitable for their ages. If nothing else, they may misunderstand what they overhear. Even worse, a child’s interpretation of adult conversations may be skewed; which can severely damage their emotional well-being and transition process.
When A Child Asks “Is It My Fault?”
To minimize the effects of divorce on children, parents often try to shelter their children from the truth. As parents, we become accustomed to protecting our kids, but the truth of the matter is that telling a child nothing is wrong isn’t comforting them when they know it is not true.
When your child asks you what is wrong they aren’t necessarily asking you what they really mean. What they are usually questioning is, “Will everything be ok?” “Is it my fault?”
No child is ever ok with their parents getting a divorce, but no matter how much you deny it, they can tell when something is wrong. Don’t diminish their sense of importance as a member of the family by trying to hide the truth. But it is worth noting that they don’t need to be told every detail of the situation either.
Children have more than enough to work through as they navigate their way through life; they don’t need to have adult problems laid out on display. These are not issues that any child should be expected to understand, but even if they could – they aren’t their problems. They are yours – keep them that way.
Continually Reassure Your Children
It is not enough to simply explain the situation and upcoming changes only once. Children need to be reassured on a consistent basis. They need to know that the end of your marriage doesn’t mean the dissolution of your role as their parent, or your family in its entirety. Just as important, both your actions and your words prove these promises to your child. As a means of comforting your children, start off by offering them the following reassurances:
- Reaffirm that they are loved by both parents and that’s something that will ever change.
- Help them understand that, as parents, you will both continue working together to ensure they are taken care of.
- Assure them that they will never need to choose between the two of you.
- Explain that the decision to divorce was made due to what you believe will be best for everyone in the family.
Include A Family Lawyer In Your Support System
One of the surest ways to make divorce as uncomplicated as possible for both yourselves and your child, is to turn to a family lawyer. As an attorney that is specializing in family law, a divorce lawyer will provide you with the shortest path to a fair and civil divorce. The less emotional damage caused by divorce, the easier it is to maintain the family structure needed for your child’s best health overall.
When couples are facing divorce, the intense emotions surrounding the situation can consume more than just the parents. All too often the emotional well-being of children is also put on the line. Including proper legal counsel as part of your support system is your first step in ensuring you minimize the effects of divorce on children.