With 40-50% of all U.S. marriages ending in divorce, you can guarantee that at some point a child is going to be involved.
Whilst younger children usually bounce back and quickly get used to mommy and daddy having separate houses, older kids tend to be more aware. However, no matter where they currently are in terms of developmental stage, you won’t be able to hide your divorce from your children forever.
So, the priority here is making sure that your child’s emotional health remains intact – after all, they are the innocent party in this. We’ve listed the five top ways to protect your child from the negative effects of divorce.
1. Encourage Communication
You might not want to talk about your divorce right now, but some day the nitty-gritty details are going to come out and staying silent will set the wrong example to your little one; teaching them to keep their feelings bottled up can have awful long-lasting effects.
If you hire a good divorce lawyer, they may be able to help you explain the process to your child objectively. This can be a good way to start the flow of communication between you two.
Dividing the various parts of their life and boxing them off in mental ‘compartments’ comes easily to some people; for others, it can seem impossible. But, when your child is around, it’s so important to file thoughts about the divorce away in your mind for another time.
Remember that your spouse is also your child’s parent; your little one doesn’t want to hear bad things about mom or dad. Unless it’s an extreme situation such as abuse where your child can’t see their parent again, don’t be that parent who shares the details. Doing so can lead to a strained relationship between your child and ex-spouse for years to come. And, it will affect your own parent-child bond.
3. Stay Positive
It can be hard to think positive thoughts when the marriage you’ve worked so hard to build is being demolished in front of your eyes. But, striving to see the bright side will encourage a culture of underlying happiness and contentment in your home, no matter what.
From a child’s perspective, there’s some pretty good perks of having divorced parents; two birthday parties, two bedrooms, and in some cases, new brothers and sisters to play with. Remind them that it’s not all bad.
4. Get Support
Finally, in some cases, you will need to get extra support for your child. Some children are particularly hard-hit by a divorce; perhaps they share a close bond with your ex-spouse and not having them around is breaking their heart.
Therapy with a good pediatric psychologist can help your child to deal with the changes in their life. Additionally, encourage your child to remain friends with your ex; let them visit as often as they need and encourage them to stay in touch by calling or texting.
Did divorce affect you as a child? Did you hire a great divorce lawyer? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.