Although divorce is a challenge for everyone involved, there are many ways you can make the transition easier for your children. In general, children are adaptable and will adjust to the new situation, but even the most resilient people can become overwhelmed when too much is thrown at them at once.
Don’t Make Too Many Changes At Once
One of the biggest challenges to divorce is dealing with the massive amount of changes that occur in a short time. Here’s a list of just a few of the many changes that can occur because of the divorce:
- Moving homes
- School changes
- New routines
- Reduced living standards
- Two households
- Loss of friends due to move
- Addition of step siblings
If you’re financially capable, one easy way to reduce the amount of change is to not move immediately. And if you must move, try to stay in the same geographical area. Once your child is adjusted to living out of two separate homes and their new routine, then you can make additional necessary changes. I know some of these suggestions will not be possible for some, but try to do any thing you are able to keep things manageable for them.
If this relates to you, I urge you not to bring a new significant other into the picture too quickly, especially if that person is the reason or cause of the divorce in the first place. Spend some time living alone before introducing a new significant other into your child’s life. They are already dealing with a huge amount of stress and then to be expected to quickly welcome a new stepparent or step-figure into the picture would be unrealistic and overwhelming.
Keep Your Children Involved
Participating in extracurricular activities was a huge part of my high school experience, and was an amazing safety net for me through my parents divorce. I had friends on my teams and in choir whose parents were also going through divorce, and they were additional people I could talk to about it.
My teachers and coaches were good role models that provided stability and support for me as my parents were figuring out their new lives. Parents are often so overwhelmed themselves during the divorce process, that their ability to parent effectively is inhibited for a time. Having other adults who are able to partially fill a guiding role can be a huge benefit for children.
Even if they seem resistant to getting involved with anything I urge you to make them find something that can be involved in. Help them find something they are passionate about or interested in. There are so many benefits to being involved: increased self-esteem, being part of a group, keeping your mind engaged in productive activities and discovering your independence, to name a few.
Don’t Involve Your Children In Your Disputes
Your children have no need to be a part of the arguments and disagreements between you and your ex. Getting them involved creates significant stress, and often creates difficult loyalty conflicts. I understand the desire to get the children “on your side,” but you need to put your own desires aside and do what’s best for your child.
Your children typically know what’s going on and know the difference between right and wrong. Have trust that by taking the higher road, your children will be thankful for your sacrifice. They will figure out, or more likely, already know what’s going on anyway. Divorce will be a hard transition for everyone involved. You can make the choices to be a buffer or a catalyst to the stress your child experiences. Give them the freedom to makes their own decisions.