Divorce 101: How To Protect Your Children

February 27, 2016
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Divorce is a difficult situation for all parties involved, but the roller coaster is especially unsettling for children. There are ways that you can help your children stay balanced by keeping a cool head yourself, avoid involving them in the ugly issues and getting them professional help if needed.

If you are currently navigating a divorce here are a few things put together by DivorceForce that you can do to increase the likelihood of a peaceful and respectful divorce and to ensure that your children remain emotionally stable:

1.It’s nobody’s fault

Your children, especially the older kids and teens, may naturally assume that they have played some role in bringing about your divorce. They may feel they are responsible for the discontent that has caused the breakdown in the family. They may recall a situation/s when they’ve caused you difficulties, especially if you and your ex argued about it. It’s important that you tell each child directly that she did not cause the divorce and she could not have prevented it.

2.Therapy

Therapy can help you get through a divorce in one piece. Search for a family therapist who is experienced with kids and give them the option of going to therapy. Counselling can be especially useful for older kids who, even without a divorce in their lives, are already dealing with puberty and hormones. If your teen refuses to go to therapy, encourage him or her to talk with other adult family members or trusted teachers to whom he or she feels close.

3.Be civil with your ex-spouse

Your marriage may be over but his role in your kids’ lives is forever, so do whatever it takes to find neutral ground and behave civilly toward him. Any unspoken resentment and anger you may harbour toward your spouse will not go unnoticed by the kids, and this could make them uncomfortable enough to opt out of visitation.

4.Deal with negative emotions

Divorce is a loss for each member of the family. While divorce after a troublesome marriage may have some affirmative aspects for a child who is no longer subject to parental disharmony, a child of divorced parents may also experience less parental support and involvement – as parents go through the extent of their own emotions and life adjustments. Respond to your children’s negative reactions by acknowledging their feelings and reassuring them of your love, regardless of their ages. If your children act out inappropriately, calmly remind them of the consequences for disobedience, and then help them become aware of their emotions by talking about them.

5.Talk about the new boyfriend or girlfriend

Children of divorced parents typically go through changes and adjustments. While a parent might feel ready to move on and establish a new relationship, children aren’t always ready to welcome the new person into their lives. It’s only natural for a child to harbour hopes of his parents getting back together. For this reason, seeing a parent in a romantic relationship with someone else can initiate negative emotions including anger, fear and resentment. The way you talk to your child about a new boyfriend or girlfriend will make the difference between acceptance and rejection. Timing also plays a role – try to wait at least six months to a year after a legal divorce before introducing your child to a significant other.

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