No one gets married expecting to get divorced, especially if they have kids.
“It won’t happened to us…we’re different.”
And then it does…you get divorced.
As parents, when you divorce, you worry about the emotional effects on your kids.
But, you’re struggling to get through it too. What are you supposed to do?
Isn’t it enough that you’re dealing with your own hurt and pain?
How are you supposed to help your kids deal with their pain?
While there’s no easy or quick solution, there are a couple of KEY things you can and SHOULD do to help ease the pain. You owe it to yourself and your kids. This isn’t a magic fix but it’s a good start:
- Get yourself and your kids some extra outside support
There’s no reason you or your kids should have to deal with all the feelings and changes that come with divorce alone.
You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t fail. Your relationship just didn’t work out the way you thought it would…and there are a lot of families just like yours.
“How did I get here?” — Anonymous Parent
Friends and family are a great place to start for moral support, good listening ears to vent and left off steam, and to help distract your kids.
But, having your own non-biased, non-judgmental space to talk with a professional and get the support and guidance you and your kids need to ride the wave of divorce is one of the best things you can do for your family.
Tired of talking about it or don’t know how? Here’s WHY you have to keep trying…
- Maintaining open, honest, age appropriate communication is a MUST to help kids deal with divorce.
- It’s important to allow kids to ask questions and offer repeated opportunities for discussion.
- There are lots of simple ways to let your kids know that the divorce isn’t their fault and that they are loved and are still a family.
- If kids don’t know what’s going on, they will make things up in their heads. When they make things up in their heads, they get anxious. When they get anxious, they lose their ability to manage their behaviors.
- Allow for Feelings
You have feelings about the divorce. It’s inevitable. You can’t swallow them forever. Your kids have feelings too and you need to help. Here are some ways to do so:
- Encourage kids to talk about how the divorce is making them feel and give them some words to help describe it.
- Acknowledge that you feel sad and confused and that feelings are ok.
- Empathize with their feelings without trying to fix them.
Probably the last thing you feel capable of doing is giving EVEN MORE attention to your kids. When you want to just curl up in bed and cry or dive into your work and forget about everything else…you can’t. Your kids need you more than ever. Here’s what they need:
- Extra alone time with you.
- More cuddles, hugs, or closeness in whatever way works for them.
- Additional patience and understanding with their mood and behaviors.
- Continued routines, boundaries, and structure to feel safe amidst the confusion around them.
You CAN’T change the reality of the divorce but you CAN make the process easier.
And, you don’t have to, nor should you, do it alone.
Give yourself a break and get some help learning how to talk to your kids, help them deal with their feelings, and be there for them when they need you these most.
Maybe you couldn’t fix the marriage but you can save the kids.