Advice for Divorcing Parents: Check in Regularly with Your Kids

Parents can get so caught up in their own divorce turmoil that they forget how stressful the process can be on their kids. Here's some good advice for divorcing parents to reduce their children's stress, fears, and anxiety about the future.

By Trevor McDonald
Updated: April 17, 2018
high-conflict divorcing parents, upset daughter

It’s an often-quoted statistic that almost half of all marriages in America ultimately end in divorce. Divorce is generally an upsetting situation for everyone involved, and it can lead to high levels of stress, anxiety, and concern about your future well-being and security. Unfortunately, these issues do not exist within a vacuum of the courtroom. Most couples engaged in the divorce process will experience the stress and anxiety of their divorce throughout their daily lives, which may greatly affect their day-to-day wellbeing.

That being said, while it may be easy for divorcing couples to see these issues as they pertain to their own lives during the divorce process, often children of the divorcing spouses experience the same or similar problems in their own lives that can go completely unnoticed by their parents during the turmoil often inherent in divorce cases. Here is some advice for divorcing parents to help their children through the divorce process

Advice for Divorcing Parents: Divorce is Stressful for Your Kids, Too

Divorce rates for couples who have children together are nearly identical to divorce rates as a whole. This means that children born today have a 50% chance of seeing their parents’ divorce before their 18th birthday. As a divorcing parent, it can be easy to become entirely preoccupied with the divorce process. Court dates, meetings with attorneys, and trying to cooperate with your ex-spouse can become extremely overwhelming, and sometimes this means that parents aren’t focusing the proper amount of attention on their children as the children go through this process as well.

It is not uncommon for parents to get so caught up in their own stress of divorce that they forget how stressful the process can be on their children. In many cases, especially those involving younger children, the children’s parents are the most important people in their lives. Parents have the luxury of friends and family to discuss their issues with, but children often only feel comfortable discussing these issues with their parents. For this reason, it is imperative that parents ensure that they are up-front – and age-appropriate – with their children about their divorce. As a divorcing parents, make sure that you're checking in with you children regularly and allotting plenty of time to work through the problems that they may be experiencing as a result of your divorce. Try to listen more and speak less: really hear and acknowledge your kids' fears and concerns without dismissing them as trivial.

Advice for Divorcing Parents: Don't Keep Your Divorce a Secret from Your Kids

One of the best things a parent can do for their children during a divorce is to talk to them about the divorce early on. Parents should not wait until the last minute to tell their children that they are getting a divorce. Along the same lines, parents should in no way try to keep the divorce a secret from their children. Honesty is important from the start of the divorce, and one of the earliest discussions a parent should have with their children is in regards to how the children are, or are not, involved in the process themselves. Drawing a clear line between the child and the divorce can do wonders for putting a child’s mind to ease by allowing the child to focus on the things that affect them personally, while allowing them to let go of the things that don’t.

Advice for Divorcing Parents: Reassure Your Kids, and Shield Them from Spousal Conflict

While it is extremely important to be up-front and honest with children during divorce, these discussions should almost never involve blaming the other side, sharing specifics of the case, attempting to sway children to choose sides, or discussing faults of the other party. Unfortunately, children often feel that they are the source of the conflict between their parents, and often this means that children feel that they are solely to blame for their parents needing to separate. Because of this, putting your child in the middle of your conflict or attempting to use your child as some sort of leverage piece is the last thing you should do.

Divorce can be extremely frustrating for spouses, but a child’s frustration can go unnoticed by parents who are caught up in a difficult or high-conflict divorce process. As parents look for their own guidance during the divorce, they need to understand and remember their children’s need for guidance as well. Setting clear boundaries for children, as well as making sure the children know that the divorce is not their fault, is crucial in nearly all divorce cases involving children.

Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer currently writing for family law firm David J. Crouse & Associates. Trevor has written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies. In his free time, you can find him playing his guitar or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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March 21, 2018
Categories:  Children and Divorce

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