Going through a divorce can be emotionally challenging, especially if you have children. Suddenly, you must cope with your own feelings about the ending of your marriage while providing stability, comfort, and reassurance to your children. Your kids will have their own questions about the divorce, and they will look to you for answers. Even if you and your spouse are walking away from your marriage on friendly terms, making this significant change to your life can impact your children. So, what are some ways that your children can feel more supported throughout the divorce process? Here are three key strategies for easing the transition to your new family dynamic.
#1. Be Mindful of How You Interact With Your Ex
Children are extremely perceptive, and they tend to pick up on your intense emotions. If they are exposed to loud, contentious arguments between you and your soon-to-be-ex, they may become anxious, sad, or even feel guilty about witnessing these arguments. Whenever possible, refrain from arguing with your ex in front of your child, whether in-person or over the phone. Try to postpone major disputes for times and locations where your children are not present and cannot overhear you. While no one expects you to be friendly to your partner, at least attempt to keep things civil while in the presence of your children.
#2. Avoid Making it a Contest
Sadly, there are several instances where divorcing parents try to lavish gifts or attention on their children in an attempt to “win” their loyalty. It’s not unheard of for children to be used as pawns in the larger context of the divorce, and this is simply unfair to both parents and children alike. Even if you feel guilty for breaking your family apart, this doesn’t mean you need to prove yourself as your child’s “favorite” parent. Instead of letting presents or indulgences speak for you, try to simply spend quality time with your children instead. One-on-one time with each parent in the midst of a challenging divorce can help children feel connected and reassured, even as their home life is changing.
#3. Consistency is Key
Children crave consistency. They need to be able to trust that the caring adults in their lives will continue to show up for them and provide them with the love and support they need. Even as you adjust your living arrangements and other key aspects of your divorce, strive to keep some routines in place. For instance, try to continue having family meals together, even if your family now looks a bit different. Find a way for your child to continue to participate in the sport they enjoy, even if it means asking a neighbor to pick them up. Your child will appreciate your efforts to honor these routines, and your family will enjoy a smoother transition to your new way of life.
If you have questions about how a divorce will affect your children, or you’d like to learn more about the divorce process in the Portland-Metro area, call Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C. at (503) 233-8868 today to speak to a dedicated divorce and family law attorney.