Your divorce will likely be the biggest disruption your child has ever experienced. It will shake up where they live, how they spend their days and how they view the world. Their idea of the family and themselves will likely change during this time as well.
You can’t eliminate the harm that divorce causes, but you can significantly reduce it. What can you do to minimize the instability divorce causes for your children?
Have a family discussion ahead of time
Although it may seem kindest to have the process already largely completed by the time you tell your children about the divorce, your children need a chance to adjust.
Letting them know that one parent will move out soon is better than telling them someone has already left. That way, they have an opportunity to process their feelings with the entire family still in the home.
Make daily stability a priority
From how you schedule your shared parenting time to how each of you makes use of your legal decision-making authority, you can choose to prioritize stability and consistency for the children.
Maintaining the same daily schedule, keeping them in the same school and otherwise actively seeking to preserve as much of their current lifestyle as possible will reduce the pain of this transition.
Offer them support and chances for expression
Children going through divorce have a lot of emotions to process. They may need to take up a sport where they can wear themselves out and get out of their heads. They may want to learn an instrument or take an art class so that they can find new ways to let go of their most painful feelings.
They could also potentially benefit from counseling, either with the whole family present or one-on-one with a therapist. Giving them opportunities to express themselves and to heal will set them up for Success during this difficult time.
Let them know they are still your top priority
Children often feel guilty, as though they are the ones to blame for a divorce. They may worry that their parents resent them or blame them, which can be a very painful experience.
If you let your child know that you are also going through a difficult time but that you want to be there for them and that they are not responsible for your divorce or your emotions, you can head off a lot of the most painful thoughts that children often have when their parents separate.
Making yourself accessible and giving your child an opportunity to express themselves directly to you can help reinforce that you love them and will support them regardless of how your family changes. Keeping your children at the center of all of your custody matters will help you make choices that are better for them.