You’re getting divorced, and it feels like the end of the world. In a way it is—but the good news is that it’s also the beginning of a new one. While divorce often feels like a failure, especially when there are children in the marriage to consider, it’s important to recognize that it’s the end of a situation that wasn’t making your family happy. It’s not uncommon for children of unhappy marriages to grow up hearing parents argue over finances, chores, infidelity, or even problems in the bedroom.
Being around instability and conflict takes a toll on children. As difficult as divorce might be, it can also be the first step on the road toward healing. Sometimes to build a better future, it’s necessary to end something that isn’t working.
With that in mind, it’s important to consider how your divorce can be an opportunity for parents to support their children and help them thrive.
Finding a New Normal
It can be tempting to dwell on the particulars of why a marriage failed—whose fault it was, or what went wrong—but having arrived at the decision to divorce, the most important thing now for all parties is to come together as parents in common without the weight and pressure of being romantic partners. What that means is working together (or on your own if necessary) to provide your children with structure, safety, and reliability.
- Schedule as much as possible; start a calendar to track custody arrangements; set up regular times to check in with your children on how they’re feeling.
- Support each other’s authority as parents; work with your ex to create ‘agreed-upon rules that must be followed at both houses
- Communicate honestly with your children about your reasons for splitting up in simple terms, without getting into details; avoid fostering resentment toward one parent or the other, even if it may be difficult.
- Encourage routines, after-school activities, and time with friends. It’s important to help establish a new normal for your child so that they can picture what their life is going to be like moving forward.
One of the struggles that children go through during a divorce is losing a sense of community. It’s important to continue to foster their sense of community. Help them stay connected to friends and family, but also teachers, coaches, and other mentors.
- Therapy can be extraordinarily helpful during a divorce. It’s important to have someone that you can talk to, but it’s also worth considering family counseling as well. Online therapy groups with peers can be useful for helping children connect with people who understand what they’re going through.
- Community resources are a valuable tool to help your child through this time; consider reaching out to their guidance counselor, and make sure that your child’s teachers & coaches are aware of the changes taking place at home.
- Social Clubs are a good way of making sure your child has opportunities to meet other kids and can give them a sense of continuity and belonging regardless of which parent they’re staying with. Sports, hobbies, and interests like theater, dungeons & dragons, or other activities can all be useful outlets to keep them grounded during their free time.
Most importantly, this is a chance for you and your children to establish a stronger, healthier bond in a conflict-free environment. Use this opportunity to find ways to connect with your child’s interests and develop a one-on-one relationship with them. Find a new hobby you can share together, or pick a tv show to watch during your time together.
If your child is a reader, start reading their favorite series with them. Use this as an opportunity to model a healthy living situation and a conflict-light lifestyle. If your family is going through a split, therapy can help ease the transition for you and your children. Reach out today to learn more.