Ten Tips For Parents To Help Their Child Through Divorce
It’s a fact: children respond poorly to divorce. Period. Your child is undergoing a major change in his/her life. Now some worse news for you: you can not eliminate the damage. Age is a big factor to how a child responds, but it’s by no means the only factor. If the child is under 5, the damage is significantly less due to the child’s brain development. As the child gets older, the harm becomes more damaging.
It’s impossible to say how your child will react to divorce, but we know it’s going to be bad. Your goal here is to avoid unnecessary damage to your child’s emotional state as best you can. Our 10 tips for parents getting a divorce were written to help you mitigate the damage of divorce to children. Review these guidelines or contact an attorney at Engel Law Group, P.S., for more suggestions.
Tips For Getting Your Child Through A Divorce
- (1) Remain in communication with your children and encourage them to speak about their feelings. It’s the modern smartphone age, so why not send your son a text every day?
- (2) Try to remain positive around your children. Easier said than done sometimes, but this is important. If you are acting devastated, how do you think your daughter is going to feel?
Hint: Not Good.
How To Handle Your Ex
- (3) Never badmouth your ex-spouse in front of your child. I don’t care how bad he is. I promise: your daughter will figure it out when she grows up. Badmouthing creates animosity between the child and the parent. It may not happen when the child is 5, but it will happen eventually. It will come back around and it just isn’t worth it. As Ms. Obama stated: take the high road. And if she goes low while you go high, tell us if you want to do something about it, not your daughter.
- (4) Remain business-like with your former spouse. If the emotions are still raw, this won’t be easy. Just remember this isn’t about you. It’s about your son and it greatly benefits your son to remain as amicable with your ex-wife as possible. Becoming reactionary or responding emotionally with your ex-wife may feel good in the moment but unnecessarily harms your son’s emotional state.
- (5) Never limit communication between a parent and child, even if you hate the father. A child should feel free to speak with his or her parent whenever desired. Again, on the other, if you are concerned about a spouse’s behavior, set a time to speak to your divorce attorney. If you suspect the parent is doing something abusive, stop reading this and contact your attorney right now.
Interacting With Your Son Or Daughter
- (6) Try to be honest with your children. Lying to your child about the situation can be damaging. On the other hand, giving them too much information will have a negative effect on their emotional state.
- (7) Don’t ask your child for gossip or information about your ex-husband’s life. Don’t use your son to stalk your ex.
- (8) Always be kind and patient with your children. This doesn’t mean forever. This means while your daughter is adjusting to the changes to her life because you’re divorcing your soon-to-be ex-wife, play it safe and err on the side of patience and kindness. Children have fragile egos. It doesn’t take much to smash them. Think of divorce as elevating the fragility by a factor of 10.
Listening To And Empowering Your Child
- (9) Listen to your child. Sounds easy, right? Good. Remember this quote, “Where ever you are, be there.” This means being in the moment with your child.
- (9) Don’t take it personally if your son chooses to do something else during visitation times. I know this isn’t easy. You desperately want to see your son but he wants to go over Porter’s house. Or maybe it’s your daughter going over Nicole’s house. Try to let your child her prior life as closely as possible. This means making sacrifices. On the other hand, if you feel your spouse is negatively affecting your relationship, speak with an attorney. That’s called parental alienation.
It’s About Your Child
If you remember anything, remember this: it’s not about you. It’s not about your ex. It’s about your son: that beautiful little boy you’ve watched grow up before your eyes. The person who means everything to you. If you follow these guidelines, I promise it will help your son (or daughter) move in the right direction. Let me also add a disclaimer: I wrote these 10 tips for parents to provide guidelines in a general way. The 10 Tips for Parents are by no means a substitute for professional mental health counseling or coaching. Ideally, children in a high-conflict divorce will be in some sort of professional counseling. If you need additional help on this topic, call our office to schedule a consultation.