While your divorce may be causing you to feel overwhelmed and distracted, your children need you now more than ever.
But, it can be difficult to know how to show up in the right way for your kids after your breakup. Here’s what you can do to assist your children through your “decoupling” process.
Keep things simple
You don’t need to provide complicated reasons to your young children about “why” you’re getting a divorce. Keep things neutral, simple and matter-of-fact. It’s enough just to say something like, “Mom and dad are unhappy because we fight all the time. We’re going to live in separate homes now so we can get along better.” Be careful not to make the divorce anyone’s fault.
Reassure your children
Your kids need to feel that you will love them forever, and they need to understand that the love of a parent for a child is different from the love of two married people in this respect. Also, explain how your children will see and spend time with both parents on a regular basis. Let your children know this schedule, and make it visible for them to check on a day-to-day basis.
Talk about emotions
Create an environment in which it’s okay for your children to talk about their emotions. Let them know that it’s normal if they feel angry or sad about you and the other parent splitting up. Teach your children how to tell you, “I feel sad/angry/etc. and I want to talk with you.”
Don’t talk badly about your ex
Let your child feel however he or she is going to feel about your or your ex, and whatever you do, don’t try to change your child’s perspective toward the negative. Your children, especially young children, still see you and your ex as if you are Superman or Superwoman, and talking badly about your ex could disrupt your child’s hopeful and happy view of mom and dad. Giving your child a negative perception of the other parent will only hurt your child’s self-esteem in the long run.
To conclude, there’s another important way to make your divorce as easy on your child as possible. This involves the process of dissolving your marriage in a peaceful and respectful way. The kinder and gentler you can make your “decoupling” process, the better your children will be able to cope with it.