Helping Your Children Adjust to Divorce
There is no denying that parents getting a divorce is difficult for any child to go through. Some people are under the misconception that divorce is the most difficult for younger children, but the truth is that children of all ages can have a difficult time adjusting to this major change in their lives.
Research has shown that young children have a hard time understanding why their parents are now in two different homes. They also worry that since their parents stopped loving each other, their parents may also stop loving them. Children who are in grade school worry that the divorce is their fault and that they must have done something wrong. When a teenager’s parents divorce, they often become very angry about the breakup, blaming and/or resenting one or both parents for all the changes in their life.
While a child may struggle with all of these emotions for the first year or two after the breakup, research has also shown that most children do bounce back and adjust to the family’s post-divorce life. And parents can help facilitate this adjustment by using the following tips.
Talk to Your Children
Your children are going to have questions about the divorce, or they may simply want to talk to you about the emotions they are feeling. It is important that you sit down with them and answer any questions they have and listen to the emotions they are trying to work through. You also want to make sure to have follow-up talks with your children. Yes, it is important to have that initial discussion with them when you first tell them about the divorce, but it is also just important to keep having these talks with them throughout the divorce process and after the divorce is complete, too. These talks can go a long way in reassuring your children that everything is going to be okay.
Create a Parenting Plan with Your Spouse
In many divorces, one spouse moves out of the family home while the divorce process is going on or sometimes even before the legal process has actually begun. In these situations, it is important for parents to put together a parenting plan that clearly states how parenting time and parenting duties will be allocated between the two spouses. Having a parenting plan in place not only reduces stress between the two spouses, but it can also reduce stress for the children, reassuring them that they will continue spending time with both parents while the divorce is going on and afterward. If it is necessary to make this parenting plan legally binding before the divorce is settled, your attorney can request the court issue a temporary parenting plan agreement.
Keep Your Regular Routine
The divorce process often brings with it many deviations from a person’s regular routine. Not only are there changes at home, going from a two-parent family to a one-parent family, but there may be time spent away from home dealing with the legal process of the divorce, such as appointments with your attorney, depositions, and court appearances. Children need structure in their lives in order to help them feel secure, so even with all of the other commitments you may have, it is important to keep the family’s schedule as normal as possible. Make sure your children still attend any extracurricular activities they are involved in and that your involvement in these activities stays the same as it was before the divorce process began. And even though you are now a one-parent home, it can be crucial to your children’s adjustment to keep the same routines you had before you split up, such as eating family dinners together or Friday night family movie nights.
Do Not Bring Stress Home
Divorce can be one of the most stressful events that occurs in a person’s life, bringing out feelings of sadness, frustration, and anger. This is true even if the divorce is not necessarily a contentious one. Although it can be difficult to put these emotions aside, it is important to your children’s emotional wellbeing that you shield them from these feelings you may be dealing with. While it can be healthy for children to see their parents experiencing certain emotions and working through them in a healthy way, parents need to keep them in check and not allow these feelings to hover over family time spent with children.
Our Family Lawyers Can Help with Your Divorce and Child Custody Issues
Divorce can be extremely difficult, particularly when there are children involved. At Kirshenbaum Law Associates, our skilled Rhode Island family lawyers understand the challenges you will face throughout the process and will provide the help you need to overcome them. Call us today at 401-467-5300 to schedule a confidential consultation. We also offer phone and Zoom consultations and appointments.