If you are divorcing or have recently divorced, it’s important to have regular discussions with your children about the feelings and thoughts they are having during the transition.
Read on to learn more about the steps you can take to encourage your child to express, accept and resolve feelings he or she may be experiencing after the divorce.
Common emotions for children to feel
It is common for children and teenager to have troubling feelings during or after a divorce. Some of the common emotions they may feel are:
- Guilt – the child may suspect he or she prompted the divorce
- Worry or fright for the future
Plan and prepare to discuss the divorce
If possible, discuss how to address the divorce with your ex-spouse. Despite the decision to separate, the two of you will still need to work together as a parenting team. Agreeing to be respectful of one another and focus on explaining the changes your child should expect will help these talks go over more smoothly.
Controlling your own feelings
You shouldn’t pretend you are okay if you feel sad or upset. It’s healthy for children to see that their parents experience negative emotions too.
However, your child looks to you for guidance and care. It’s important to avoid becoming extremely emotional, so that your child still feels that he or she can rely on you for stability during this transitional time.
If you are unable to discuss the divorce calmly, consider asking a trusted friend or relative to explain the situation to your child.
Encourage them to embrace their feelings
Although parents usually want to see their children happy, it’s not a good idea to try to problem solve when your child is feeling upset. While it may be difficult to accept that your child is sad, he or she will be better able to express and accept negative feelings in the future after learning to confide in you during this difficult time.
Assure your child that sharing upset feelings with you is important, and that feeling this way is valid and normal.
Oftentimes children blame one or both parents for the disruption that divorce has on their lives. Accept fault in that your divorce will impact the child’s life.
Remind your child that he or she is not at all responsible for the divorce. Explain that the decision was made between you and the other parent and that you understand how the decision might seem unfair.
Check up on your child regularly
Your child may want to discuss the divorce at different points throughout their life. Keep the dialogue open and remember to check in on your child’s feelings regularly.
If you have questions about how custody arrangements should be made or which types of divorces are quicker and easier, contact a family law attorney for advice.