It is no secret that divorce can be hard on children. Mountains of research has been done on this subject and endless volumes have been written about how divorce impacts the lives of the kids. How it affects them depends largely on their age and how the parents deal with it.
Younger children may throw tantrums or act out in similar ways, school-age children and teenagers may be more prone to rebel against authority, experience depression, or develop eating or sleeping disorders. Adult children may have various issues in their own relationships, such as difficulty trusting their mate.
How to Minimize the Negative Effects of a Divorce
Children almost always react negatively to a divorce, but how parents handle it is a major factor in reducing any negative impact the marriage dissolution has. Here are some ways you can help your children cope with a divorce:
Wait to Tell Your Children Until the Decision is Final
How you initially approach the subject of the divorce with your kids is extremely important. First of all, if you and your spouse are at odds and you are just thinking about getting a divorce, do not bring that up to your children. You do not want your kids to be worried and stressed about something that may or may not happen. Wait until you and your spouse have made a final decision that your differences are irreconcilable before making the announcement.
Make a Plan to Tell the Children Together
When you have finally decided that you are getting a divorce, plan to explain this to your children with your spouse, not separately. Do this without blaming the other parent and reassure your kids that it is not in any way their fault. Also, be sure to let them know that, even though Mom and Dad won’t be together anymore, you are still going to work together to do what is best for them no matter what else happens.
Keep Your Children Out of Disputes with Your Ex
As the divorce process ensues, you will most likely have disputes with your ex about various issues. These arguments can sometimes dredge up hard feelings and lead to each side hurling insults and accusations at each other. When kids see their parents quarreling, it increases their stress and anxiety, which can result in other consequences. And the last thing most children want to do is to take sides in a dispute between their parents. Heated discussions are a part of life and they will occur at times. Do your best to keep your children out of them.
Consider Mediation to Settle Your Divorce
Divorce can be costly in terms of time, money, and emotions. This is especially true if you opt for traditional litigation. A court case is by its very nature adversarial, and battles over child-related issues such as custody and parenting plans can inflict lasting emotional damage on everyone involved. If you and your spouse are committed to putting the interests of your children above all else, consider an alternative way to settle your divorce.
Mediation is a collaborative process that is designed to bring parties together to settle their differences amicably. The process is facilitated by a neutral, third-party mediator whose job is to identify the underlying issues and guide the discussion toward a peaceful and workable resolution. Mediation can save divorcing couples time and significant amounts of money in legal fees. But most importantly, the process encourages cooperation among participants, which reduces stress and anxiety and helps kids cope with the divorce in a healthier way.