Divorce is a hard process for every couple, but it’s particularly challenging if you have kids.
While you will have some difficult moments no matter what you do, keep the following suggestions in mind to make the transition as smooth as possible.
6 Tips to Make Divorce Easier for Your Children
1. Talk to Your Children
This may seem obvious, but open communication with your children is more important now than ever. Tell them that what is happening is not their fault, even if they say that they know. Do not use lies or falsely optimistic statements such as, “Nothing is going to change.”
Be honest with your children about the future, especially if that means telling them that you don’t know something. Also, be sure to talk to them about things that aren’t related to your divorce. Ask about their school days, activities, and hobbies. Doing so will show them that you still love and care about them, even though your family situation is changing.
2. Make Sure They Have Plenty of Access to Your Pets – and Keep Those Pets Healthy!
Deciding what will happen to your pets is challenging when you and your spouse divide your household. Particularly if your children are close to your pets, make sure that they can see your dog or cat as much as possible. Do not let your pet’s health slide in the chaos of divorce; a pet’s preventable illness or death would be too much for your children to handle.
Keeping your pet healthy can be as simple as walking your dog daily, keeping them up-to-date with shots and check-ups at the vet, and monitoring cat eye gunk for abnormalities. Spending more time with your pet will also benefit you since petting animals can relieve stress.
3. Speak Respectfully to Your Ex-Partner
Depending on the nature of your divorce, you may feel very negatively towards your ex-spouse. While you might enjoy badmouthing him or her to your children, doing so would be detrimental to their emotional well-being. Saying bad things about their other parent will not make them love you more. Instead, it will confuse and upset them.
When you meet to discuss splitting up your belongings and child custody, maintain a civil tone and do not use foul language. If you become so upset that you cannot stay polite, leave the room until you calm down. As always, keep in mind the saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.”
4. Maintain Your Mental Health
Divorce is an incredibly stressful process. If you are going to take care of your children, you also need to take care of yourself. Amidst the work, legal meetings, and moving chaos, budget time to exercise every day. This could mean going for a run during your lunch hour, eating at your desk, or walking with your children when you get home. Many people going through a divorce find that seeing a therapist is the best way to manage their emotions.
Find a counselor specializing in family issues and consider scheduling appointments for your children. Finally, find the time to do things you love, even if it’s only ten minutes a day. Read a chapter of a book before bed, watch a bit of one of your favorite TV shows, or cook a nice meal. Even though you might feel differently, your life will continue after your divorce, and you should act like it.
5. Prioritize Family Time
Your family will look different from now on, but you are still a family. When you are with your children, make time for family activities. Go for dinner every once in a while, and attend your children’s school and sports events. Even simple actions such as reading bedtime stories will help your children feel valued and loved. They need to know that even though life is busy, stressful, and sad, you still love them and want to spend time with them.
6. Make New Traditions
You probably will not be able to have the same family traditions now that you and your spouse are divorcing. Do not try to keep things the same, or you will upset everyone. For example, if your children go to your spouse’s house for Christmas, find a way to make their celebration with you special without trying to compete with your spouse.
Know that for some events, such as birthdays, it will be easier for your children if you and your spouse can both be present. Depending on your relationship, that might not be possible, but if you can put up with him or her for a few hours, your children will be very grateful.
As you go through the divorce process, continue to prioritize your children. Be honest with them and know that, while the coming months will be hard, you can make it through. Trust yourself and demonstrate your love to them every day.