Approximately half of all marriages end in divorce and some of these involve children. While the end of a committed relationship is extremely hard on the adults involved, the children are also at times devastated by their parents splitting.
What parents can do to increase the chance that their children will emerge the least harmed as possible is to put aside their own hurts from their marital conflict and focus on what is best for their children. Below you will find some tips that will help you assist your children in adapting to separation/divorce.
• Early on, help find ways for your children to feel more secure. Divorce changes a child’s life and one of the major effects is a decreased feeling of security. Continue to tell the children that you love them no matter what happens and that you will always be involved parents even after the divorce.
• Consistency is important to children especially during the early stages of separation and divorce. Tell them what is staying the same and try make their routine as similar as possible as it was before the divorce.
• Ideally, adopt similar rules and expectations in each household. Many times these rules and how to discipline the children are part of the conflict which impacted the decision to divorce. If the rules differ, remind the children of what the rules are at your home early on in first visits post-divorce.
• Speak respectfully of your ex-spouse or don’t speak at all of them. Your child loves you and their other parent and will feel conflicted and pressured to choose a side.
• Don’t communicate through the children. Children should not be put in the position to relay information to each parent. Try to talk or write letters to the other parent to pass on information before you exchange the children.
• Lean on adult friends, family and counselors for support. No matter what the age of your child, using them as a confidant is harmful to them and your parent-child relationship.
For additional assistance with personal or work concerns, contact Agnesian HealthCare’s Work and Wellness Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (800) 458-8183.