Divorce and Kids

Uncertainty, fear and anger are emotions related to divorce and kids. Many studies conclude that divorce is harmful for kids. Divorce can be confusing for children. Kids have needs, especially if they go through the divorce of their parents. There are several things you have to tell to your children. You need to listen to them to understand how they experience the divorce, what they are going through and to learn how they can be supported best.

What your kids need

  • 2 parents
  • Parents that focus attention on the well being of the children
  • Enjoy the time that they have with their parents
  • Not having to choose between their parents
  • Understanding

What to tell your kids

  • Bring the bad news as quickly as possible
  • Tell the truth
  • Explain the reasons in their language, depending on their age
  • Assure them that you both love them
  • You will always be there for them
  • They did not cause the divorce
  • Explain the consequences for their lives: where will they live, what they can choose

What you do not tell them

  • The other parent is to blame
  • Negative things about your ex partner

Listen to them

Children of divorce are full of emotion. Help them to express that. Listen. Understand their concerns, their fear and their anger. If there are misunderstandings, resolve them.

Active listening: ask open questions, rephrase what they are saying. That way you confirm that you understand what they are saying. Create an atmosphere of confidence. Share your feelings.

Help them to express themselves: it is not easy to children to figure out what they are feeling when they just learned that their parents are getting divorced. Many emotions run through their body and brains. Help them to identify and formulate and express these emotions. Recognise and acknowledge their feelings. This will not fix their problems but it will make bare them more easily.

Resolve misunderstandings

Especially young children of divorce fall in the trap of starting to blame themselves for the divorce of their parents. If you clear up any misunderstanding by being honest about the reasons of the divorce and by repeating this many times, the misunderstanding disappears and they will reduce or stop blaming themselves.

By reassuring your children that you and your ex partner still love them very much, The children must be told and understand that both of their parents will always be there for them, no matter if they live under the same roof or not. Being close to the children does help.

Take care of yourself: improve your mental health

Before you are able to help your children cope with their emotions and with their practical problems, you must be in balance yourself first.

To mentally recover from the divorce or separation, there are many simple things you can do to improve your mental health. Those are: improve your physical health by exercising and by eating and drinking healthy. Next, visit your friends frequently. With them you can talk about your emotions. Sometimes just talking to somebody listening to you reduces the stress and makes emotions go away. The third thing you can do is writing down your thoughts, emotions and your experiences. A fourth way is to have a coach that will help you to properly describe and define your emotions and to give them a safe place.

Give them a stable live

Structures and routines are important for children in divorce and kids. Your structures can be different from those of your ex, but the structure of the children's lives should be consistent. Create some daily routines to facilitate communication, providing a family feeling and security.

One of the best daily routines for a family is the daily family dinner in the evening. During the dinner, the parent(s) and the children can tell each other about their discoveries, exiting moments and moments of frustrations of the day.

The importance of daily routines has been reveiled by many researches. It is important for the young and for the older children. The daily dinner and then doing homework ritual gives them a feeling of comfort and puts them at ease.

Collaborate with your ex partner

And focus on the goals that you both set for your children. This will move your time and energy away from the conflict and the fighting. You will focus on the positive aspects. Not on keeping yourself busy with blaming, complaining and other negative activities. That will bring you nothing but negative emotions and frustrations.

Pay much attention to communication with your partner. If you have a difficult divorce and the emotions still run up highly when you are meeting with your ex, meet on a neutral location. Be tactful. Stay away from the blame game. Be nice to your ex.

Finally, dedicate enough time and attention to the situation.

Know when to seek help

Everybody that goes through a divorce has to deal with the emotions that come with it: anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, uncertainty and maybe many more. A mild depression is no exception.

Some children of divorce run into serious social and emotional problems. It is very difficult to deal with such a situation alone. Asking professional help can be beneficial and sometimes even necessary.

Signs of a divorce and kids related depression are: sleeping problems, lack of concentration and focus, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, social isolation, not being able to control the emotions, using violence, underperformance at work.

By listening to your children, by taking care of yourself and by providing structure and daily routines, you can support them.

If there are signs of serious mental problems, consider asking assistance from a professional.

Divorce and kids is a poisonous cocktail. It is harmful for the kids. If you prepare yourself and if you have managed to get your own emotions under control again, you will be able to create favorite conditions for your divorce and kids. Organise their lives by (re)introducing daily routines. Collaborate with your ex partner on your divorce and kids. Your children could show signals of serious emotional problems resulting. Then, consider seeking professional help on divorce and kids.

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