When parents divorce, the children often suffer. They may withdraw from relationships, experience depression for the first time or struggle in school.
You and your ex can work together to help make your divorce a little bit easier on your children if you prioritize the five tips below.
- Never fight in front of the kids
Regardless of your living or custody arrangements, the most important thing you can do to help your children adjust to the changing family circumstances is to protect them from the negativity between you and your ex.
Save your disagreements for a time and place when the children cannot witness them. Ideally, you will calm down before you communicate about such issues and avoid a fight altogether.
- Keep things positive when you talk about your ex
The things that you say about your ex to your children and to other people in front of the kids can affect how your children perceive you, your ex and even themselves. Regardless of the circumstances, your children don’t need to hear the most negative things you have to say about their other parent.
- Recognize the fine line between honesty and oversharing
Inevitably, children will have questions about what happened to their parents’ relationship. They will likely have questions about why you filed for divorce or how you feel right now. You can be honest up to a point without damaging the relationship your children have with your ex.
Your kids likely don’t need to know that there was an extramarital affair or a compulsive spending issue that led to the end of your marriage. You could always talk about things in more depth when they are older, but keeping things basic, such as saying that you no longer agreed about what worked for your relationship, is usually a better approach when they are still minors.
- Focus on keeping things consistent between homes
Children need routine in order to meet the expectations of their caregivers. You and your ex should try to set rules that you can enforce mutually at both homes. Agreeing about limits to screen time, curfew and socialization can reduce conflicts.
- Give the kids the space they need to process their feelings
You need to recognize that there will be an intense emotional process for your children as they adjust to the divorce. You should monitor them for extreme issues, like evidence that they have started to self-medicate their emotions with alcohol or have depression that results in self-harm.
Getting them therapy when necessary or finding them social support could help. Other times, you just need to encourage them to continue expressing themselves and addressing their feelings so that they can handle these changes and develop better coping mechanisms.
Sharing custody after a divorce isn’t easy, but it can be easier if you keep things focused on the kids and what will be best for them.