It is easy as adults to take our everyday lives for granted. Starting in childhood, adults have been building support networks of friends, family, and loved ones they can rely on during the divorce for guidance, reassurance, and the ability to vent about frustrations that come up as the divorce enfolds. This support network is the result of years and years of creation and upkeep, and it is easy for many divorcing couples to forget that, at one point in our lives, the only support network they had was their parents. This fact may not be a problem for older children who have been in school long enough to make friends and start working on their own networks. But for younger children, it is generally much more difficult to comprehend what is going on, when the only life they had ever known is now being split in two.
The first step of easing children through a divorce is to communicate with them about the divorce itself. The best way for divorcing spouses to discuss divorce with their children is together. Divorce is, by its nature, adversarial, and it can be extremely difficult to look at your spouse in any way other than as an opponent. However, for children, seeing parents work against each other can often exacerbate the problems the children are having, because it’s hard enough for children to see their parents splitting up without having their parents antagonizing each other as well. While it may be difficult, parents who attempt to discuss the divorce together for the sake of the children can only benefit the children’s ability to cope with the divorce as it progresses.
Once the initial discussion of the divorce has happened, parents then need to redirect the focus of the ongoing discussion from themselves to the children. Remember that children rely heavily, if not exclusively, on their parents as a support network and so future conversations should keep that in mind. Each child responds to divorce differently, meaning that the conversations parents have with their children may vary widely. However, the topic should remain centered around the child and should avoid confusing legal language. Questions such as: How are you doing? What has been bothering you? What specifically is confusing to you? and What can I/We do to help? are good open-ended questions that start the discussion, but keep the topic focused on the child.
Keep in mind however, that this does not mean that parents shouldn’t fight for their own wellbeing in court. The divorce process is an important one, and what happens in court will ultimately determine how each spouse will start a new life. Because of this, a boundary between what happens in court and what happens at home is essential for children of every age. Children should never be aware of the information brought up in court. After all, remember that every child loves their parents equally. While a parent may no longer love their spouse in any meaningful way, parents should not extrapolate their own loss of feelings for their spouse to their children. Trying to sway a child to one side or the other is extremely unhealthy. In court, attorneys’ jobs are to sway the court in the direction of their client. As such, any discussion of allegations made in court can only be made for the purposes of swaying a child and should be strictly avoided.
The most important thing parents can do for their children during a divorce is to be available to their children throughout the entire event. That being said, parents should limit discussing their own feelings about the divorce to their own support networks, and parents should instead focus the discussion they have with their children to how the divorce is affecting the children specifically. Setting boundaries and being upfront, while also focusing the discussion around the children, are extremely beneficial concepts to use, and can do nothing but help the children get through the process without making them feel like they are caught in the middle.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of the MJV Media
Author Rachel O’Conner is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California currently writing for Crouse Law Group. Over the course of her career, she has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga.