Your children are the most precious parts of your life, and this is why you're probably concerned -- and maybe even terrified -- about how your divorce will affect them. In fact, some parents are so frightened about this topic that they delay and avoid their divorce, and endure a toxic relationship that should have ended years ago.
Regardless of your situation, if you're worried about your children and whether your divorce will affect them negatively, that's a good thing. It's a sign that you're an attentive parent who cares. It's also a sign that you'll do whatever you can to support the psychological health of your kids before, during and after the dissolution of your marriage.
Tips for keeping your kids on sound psychological footing during divorce
Here are some great pieces of advice for divorcing parents:
- Shield your kids from the conflict: Your kids are better off when they don't have to listen to or witness the conflict between you and your soon-to-be ex. Don't get into arguments within earshot of your children as this kind of ongoing conflict will cause your kids to experience more social and psychological problems.
- Present your parenting plan as a united front: When you and your spouse can present your parenting and child custody plans to your children together, it will help your kids feel a sense of unity and trust. They'll also benefit from having the chance to talk with both of you at the same time about their questions and concerns because it will show them that everyone's on the same page.
- Give your kids time before you make a change: Tell your kids well beforehand about any changes to their environment. If they're going to move or the other spouse is going to move, tell them a few weeks beforehand so the change is expected and not a surprise. Also, keep further changes to a minimum during the months and years after the divorce
- Give kids plenty of time with both you and your spouse: Children need close contact with you and your ex. The children who have the most difficult experience in a divorce tend to the be the ones who don't maintain close, regular contact with one of their parents.
- Take a single parent education course: Courses are available that will teach you tools and information that will support your kids post-divorce.
A final word of advice: Your divorce will help your kids
Divorcing parents should know that -- in most cases -- children adjust well to post-divorce life. And, although this adjustment period could take a couple of years, parents should also know that children of divorced parents tend to fare better psychologically than children of parents who stay in toxic and high-conflict marriages. So, as a final word of advice: Don't worry, you've made a good decision. Your divorce will be better for your kids in the long run.
Another way to support your kids is to understand the law. When you and your ex-spouse know where you stand legally, you'll be more capable of navigating your divorce without the threat of fighting and disagreement.