Divorce is defined as the legal dissolution of marriage, resulting in the cancellation or reorganization of each spouse's martial duties. For your children, however, divorce is also the dissolution of life as they know it. Among the many changes they have to deal with is the fact that one parent will no longer be living with them. They may also need to deal with moving to a new home and living a downgraded lifestyle. Adjusting to life after divorce is never easy, but the following tips can make the transition smoother for the entire family.
- Make it clear that it's not their fault.
Even children who are exceptionally mature feel some level of guilt over what they may have done to contribute to their parents' divorce. Although it may seem obvious, clearly state that the divorce was not based on their actions, nor does it change their relationship with you or their other parent.
- Allow your children to express their fears and frustrations.
Keep in mind that your children are dealing with incredibly complex emotions, which may come out in the forms of anger and frustration. Do your best to acknowledge your children's concerns, but don't sugarcoat the situation or make promises that you can't fulfill. If your children continue to struggle with anger or fear issues, don't hesitate to speak with a child psychologist.
- Try to maintain your children's normal routines.
This is very important to think about when making arrangements for custody and visitation. Although divorce inevitably results in many changes, your custody agreement should be based on your children's current schedules, activities and interests. Causing the least amount of disruption to their daily routines will help them feel more secure during and after the divorce.
- Maintain civil relations with your spouse.
Depending on the reasons for your divorce, it may seem impossible to be in the same room with your spouse, let along maintain friendly relations. However, you owe it to your kids to speak to each other in a reasonable tone without foul or hurtful language. Remember — "friendly" is not the same thing as being "friends". The concept of being friendly is the ability to coexist with someone without harm or trouble, which is something you do every day with all types of people. Except in the most extreme cases, being friendly with your spouse is possible, especially when your children are the main motivation.
- Seek help from others, including legal and mental health professionals.
No matter how strong you are, there are going to be days when you feel overwhelmed by sadness, anger and fear. Don't be afraid to seek psychological counseling, for yourself as well as your children. You should also discuss your rights and options with an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help you resolve your divorce in the most efficient way possible, so that both you and your children can focus on moving forward.