One of the sad facts of life is that breakdowns in relationships and divorces do happen. It can be a difficult thing to deal with for both parties involved, but in many instances there are also others to consider – the kids.
Children are often caught in the middle when it comes to divorce, and being that island between two feuding parties can leave them feeling isolated, worried and concerned about what the future will hold. For this reason, it’s important that parents take the time to make sure they are dealing properly with their kids throughout the divorce. We take a look at a few important tips for ensuring your kids are coping throughout a family breakdown.
Make sure they know it’s not their fault
With young kids in particular, it’s only natural that assumptions will arise that they are to blame. Often children will think about what would have happened if they were better behaved, more fun or didn’t upset their parents. It’s important to let them know it’s not their fault from the early stages so they don’t suffer in terms of self esteem.
Don’t sugarcoat the situation
It can be very tempting to paint a brighter picture of the situation than it really is in order to protect the children, but this can actually be harmful in the long run. Suggesting that the breakdown is only temporary or that you’re trying to work it out can raise their hopes and leave them feeling hurt in the long run if it’s not true. It can be hard to hear the truth, but it’s better that kids are told everything in an easy-to-understand way so they know what’s going on and can come to terms with the situation.
Never argue in front of them
As much as there may be irreconcilable differences between parents, arguing in front of the kids is a big no-no. Kids who have to experience parental arguments will feel more isolated than ever, and it can be very difficult for them to cope when they feel like they have to pick a side, or even that they’re just stuck in the middle of two people they love.
Ask how they feel
Don’t be afraid to talk about stuff with your kids. They will definitely be hurting, and while this is hard for any parent to hear, allowing children to speak freely about their feelings will mean they’re not bottling things up. It also allows you to address any concerns and questions they have so they’re not left wondering and worrying about the future. Remember, there will be many questions, but you should answer them as openly as you can.
Get other people involved
What parents dealing with divorce are going through is stressful, upsetting and generally difficult to deal with. Adding kids into the equation can only serve to exacerbate these issues, but don’t feel like you have to deal with it all alone. Grandparents, family and friends can all play a part in helping deal with the issue, whether it’s taking some of the burden off you or simply giving your child someone else they can talk to away from the heart of the breakdown itself.