Divorce can be a great next step for a couple when staying married is no longer an option. Following divorce, both people in the marriage can move on with their lives and discover who they are and what they really want. It can be a new beginning.
But when there are children involved in the divorce things can be a little bit more complicated. Here are five ways that parents can help their children cope with divorce.
Tell them you love them
It is essential when parents are getting divorced for them to reassure their children often that they love them. They can also explain that though their parents will no longer be married and may not love each other anymore, they will never stop loving them. Parents can also tell their children how important they are to them and that they want them to be happy.
Discuss changes together
Many things may be changing for the children when their parents are getting divorced. They may be moving, changing schools, having to make new friends, being watched over by new people, and seeing one parent less than they may be used to seeing them. It is a good idea for parents to take the time to sit down with their children and discuss the changes that will be happening and why. This way there will be less surprises for the children to deal with. Even if the changes are hard, at least they will be aware of them and can do more to prepare themselves.
Tell the truth
It is important for each parent to tell their children the truth about why they are getting divorced. Parents can tailor the explanation to the age of the child. Something simple, such as, "we don't get along anymore" can be a sufficient explanation for younger children who do not need a long-winded explanation.
Older children may want a more detailed explanation. It is ok to tell older children a more detailed version of the reason their parents are getting divorced. But parents should remember not to talk negatively about their ex-spouse in the process. Explaining the facts is enough even if the child wants to talk about it more than once.
Let them talk
Children will have a lot of thoughts and feelings about their parents getting divorced. Parents should allow their children to talk to them about what is going on and about how they are feeling about all of it. During these conversations the job of the parents is mainly just to listen. If it seems like the child needs advice or help and asks for it then the parent can offer some advice.
As much as possible, it is best to maintain structure for the children during and soon after a divorce. Children should have the same bedtime routines and bed time. They should also have the same meal times and if they are participating in any activities such as sports or lessons, they should continue to participate in them. This way the child will feel like some of their world is maintaining stability even though much is changing.