Spare Your Kids the Heartache: How to Get Along After Divorce
Divorce not only exacts a toll on the divorcing couple, but it also affects the rest of the family. This is especially evident if you and your spouse have young children. Even though it is difficult to hide the negative feelings that surface during a divorce, it is extremely important that you work at managing those feelings constructively if you do not want them to affect the kids.
Avoid the mistake of believing that your adult problems are too complicated for your children to understand. Although young children may not understand words like "irreconcilable differences," they are very intuitive and impressionable. Even babies can tell when their parents are at war; the tension in the air has a way of being transferred from one body to the other.
No parent wants their children to suffer through a divorce in the same way they are suffering. If you are going through a rough divorce, implementing the following strategies can help your children stay as happy as possible during the heart-wrenching process:
Avoid arguing in front of the children. To leave the least impact, avoid arguing in front of the kids. You can have differences but keep them between you. When the children are within earshot, keep in mind the effect your words can have on them. Take a deep breath, if necessary, to give you time to plan wisely what you are going to say.
Avoid saying negative things about each other. The last thing you want is for your children to develop negative feelings towards one of their parents. Instead of piling on the criticisms in front of the kids, you can mention that:
Both of you love all your children unconditionally.
Each of you will always play a part in their lives.
Your children make you happy.
Share family time. Although you and your spouse are going through a divorce, you can spare your kids the heartache by continuing to spend time together as a unit. While you do not have to hold hands or drive in the same car, putting in the effort to get along on special occasions can help the children continue to have a sense of family.
Attend meetings together to learn about your child's progress in school.
Be present together at your children's birthday parties.
Share the child-rearing responsibilities. When your children notice that both of you are working together to raise them, they will feel that sense of togetherness. Although you are going through a divorce, your kids will understand that both parents play a part in raising them and both parents should be respected.
Divorcing parents should always put the interests of their children at the forefront of their minds. The emotional turmoil you are experiencing is difficult, but you can find strength in being a parent.
Once you recognize and acknowledge your most significant role as a parent, you will find it easier to go through the process of divorce without allowing it to have undue negative effects on your children. Maintain focus on those impressionable young ones and all of you may come out of these stronger people.
Leslie Welch, CDC, LOA
Certified Divorce & Life Coach