Going through a divorce isn’t an easy experience. As a parent, it’s important to keep in mind that your little ones might also be feeling stressed or sad as they move homes and witness the end of their parent’s relationship.
Knowing the emotional toll that it can take divorce can take on your children, makes it important to intervene early on. You can do this by not waiting until the last minute to let your child know you are seeking a divorce. And you can be proactive about checking in with how they are feeling about it before and after the divorce is final.
Helping children of all ages cope with their new reality after you cut ties with your spouse can begin with thoughtful conversation. Having both you and your ex sit down and explain what is happening can help relieve any initial anxieties or answer questions your child might have about the divorce.
Timing of this conversation is crucial, because you don’t want to tell your child to just start packing up their stuff as soon as you finish talking because you are moving out the next day. But you also don’t want to have incomplete answers when your child asks detailed questions about their post-divorce living situation and routine. It’ll also be helpful to show that there is a sense of peace between you and your ex and that your decision to separate isn’t because of something your child did.
Importance of follow-up
Including your child in both the initial conversation where you let them know about the divorce and later as you settle into life after divorce, means listening as well as talking. Maybe the news will be a shock to them or just something they need time to process. Either way, you should follow up and let them know that you are there to listen any time. Explain that talking about any range of emotions they are experiencing will only help them feel better and not worse.
At the end of the day, your child probably just wants to feel safe and keeping them informed and always checking in may be useful starting points.