All children around the world share one thing in common: None asked to be born. When the relationship of the couple that brought them into being threatens to disappear, their feelings can turn to sadness, confusion, anger, and panic. They didn’t sign up for any of this – especially not the stressful hell of divorce.
As difficult as divorce can be on everyone involved, there are ways proven to make it easier on the children.
Let Them Know They Are Deeply, Truly Loved
This is always important, but it’s never so important as during a divorce. Mommy and Daddy are all kids know of the world. To have that partnership ripped apart throws everything into doubt. Children often think up the most bizarre and extreme consequences of divorce. Kids need to know they are still loved and they won’t be left out in the cold – literally. As a parent, you need to work extra-hard to convince them that they are cherished, and everything is going to be alright.
Never, Ever Badmouth Your Former Partner
As an individual, you always have the choice of never seeing your partner again, and never knowing they ever existed. Your children don’t have that option. Genetically, they are half-composed of that person you might be tempted to call a loser, a drunk, or a good-for-nothing bum. Don’t put kids through that. What you say about your former partner is what they’ll end up thinking about themselves. Find good things to say about the other.
Don’t Forget Dance Lessons, Girl Scouts, Soccer, Playdates…
When a marriage breaks up, the old accustomed routine often goes with it. It’s important that kids’ extracurricular activities not be interrupted – even if that means deviations in the custody schedule. Remember: each of you is still entirely responsible for raising your kids to be healthy, happy, educated individuals. Divorce decrees shouldn’t change that responsibility at all, unless there’s an order of protection involved.
Seek the Support of Other Divorced Parents
These days, divorce is more rule than exception. However, it’s less prevalent in certain parts of our society than in others. If you find you are the odd-couple-out in your social group, it’s important to reach out and find other divided families – preferably ones who are making it work. Their support can help you adjust to your new life. It can also help your kids see that growing up after a divorce is not only possible, but might even be fun in some ways. Two of every holiday!
Think Twice Before Introducing a New Partner
It’s often said one shouldn’t date for a year or more after a divorce. This rarely works out. You have a need to feel vital and attractive. Divorce often amplifies these needs. Delaying gratification too long will likely force another bad relationship decision. The better approach is to carve out some “me time” away from your kids, and give yourself a chance to enjoy the companionship of others. Here’s the thing: Don’t introduce your new companion to your kids for the time – which could be a year or more — it takes to be fairly sure they are your next long-term partner.
Help is Available
It’s very possible to raise happy, healthy kids after a divorce. There’s usually a good reason for moving on, and better harmony awaits you and your children. If you find you need assistance in adjusting to a new life after divorce, consider getting help from a professional relationship counselor, like those here at Cuppls, who can help ease the transition to a new life.