In the aftermath of a divorce, the individual most impacted by the end of a marriage is often the child. Sometimes it is not as apparent to parents how much their separation affected the kids. But as the holiday season approaches, things can get tense as parents begin to fight about child custody and who gets to spend time with the children.
It can be difficult for a child to have to travel between two parents, two homes and two sets of holidays. But are there ways to prepare a child for this? If a couple is contemplating a divorce, are there steps they can take to reduce the impact it can have on their children?
There is no doubt that the end of a marriage can leave children with painful memories and possibly even distress. But how do parents balance preparing their kids for the divorce without giving them too much detail?
Sometimes simply explaining to a child that a divorce is going to happen can help. This does not necessarily mean telling your kids every single reason why the marriage isn’t working out. But giving them a “heads up” takes away the element of surprise.
Additionally, parents should also tell kids what will happen after the divorce. They may be wondering if they will have to move or change schools, even questioning whether they will be able to see both parents. Putting their concerns at ease is often in their best interests.
One final suggestion for parents is to listen to your kids. A divorce is enough to upset their daily routine and making sure to take their opinions into consideration can go a long way. A parenting plan should not just accommodate the mother and father but also the child.
Ultimately, working to find the middle ground between dealing with the divorce and being a loving parent can be a challenge. Remembering that your decisions will affect your kids can help keep that perspective.
Source: Huffington Post, “Helping Children Survive Divorce: Talking to Children About Divorce,” Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D., Nov. 14, 2011