Whether this is because of arguments over the turkey or affairs coming to light with festive text messages, or simply because many couples choose to ‘get through’ Christmas before tackling their intentions to divorce, January has become known as the ‘Divorce Month’.
Seeing their parents divorce can be upsetting for any child, no matter what age. What can you do to help your children through the divorce process?
Many parents can be tempted to start divorce proceedings without letting on to their children about what is happening, until they absolutely have to.
When you and your spouse are certain that you are going to get a divorce, you should tell your children as soon as possible. Children can pick up on any tension and if you don’t let them know what is happening, they may be more likely to blame themselves.
If possible, you and your spouse should have the conversation with your children together, to show that although you are separating, you are both happy with the decision. It’s also important to inform the child that it’s not their fault and keep re-assuring the child of this throughout the process.
Making a plan about how you will break the news and what you will say, can also be helpful. If possible, practice with your spouse beforehand.
How many questions and what they will ask you will depend on the child’s age and personality. An older child, for example, may have overheard more arguments, so may have questions about what they have heard.
You should have answers prepared for questions such as who the child will live with, where you and your spouse will live and how often they’ll get to see the other parent.
Encouraging your children to talk about their feelings can help them to come to terms with your di-vorce.
Regularly asking them how they’re feeling throughout the process and listening to their response, can help them to adjust to their changing circumstances. Explain to them that you want them to be honest with you about how they’re feeling. Sometimes, children can hold things in if they think it might hurt either parent.
Again, it’s important to re-iterate that it is not their fault that you are divorcing.
When families go through a divorce, it’s inevitable that things will change. Getting children into new routines as soon as possible, can help to provide them with the stability and structure they may feel that they have lost.
Your children will feel more reassured if you are coping. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Being honest with your children and really listening to their concerns can help children to make their way through the divorce process.
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