Anyone that has been through a divorce as a child knows how difficult this time can be. As adults, those that come from divorced homes try to do everything they can to avoid their children having to go through the same thing. However, sometimes hope and love just are not enough and divorce is inevitable. Even though the parents are splitting up, though, there are numerous things you can do as a parent to help your children come through this in relatively good shape emotionally.
Be Truthful – sugarcoating what is going on serves no purpose whatsoever. For the children to understand what is going on, you need to be able to openly communicate with them and most importantly, be honest. Having said that, personal details are not needed. Speak in general terms to avoid details that are best left unsaid.
Be Available – in all likelihood, after the initial shock wears off, your children are going to have a lot of questions, especially early on in the process. You need to make sure you are available to them to answer any questions. If it means putting your feelings aside for your spouse for a few hours so everyone can be in the same room to answer their questions, then that is what you need to do.
Expect Emotions – early on, your children may hide their emotions for fear of upsetting the marriage even further. You need to encourage them to express their actual feelings as it will have no affect on the outcome of the situation. There are going to be times where it may get difficult and even painful for you, but you must listen to them and allow them to be just as honest with you as you are with them about the situation.
Be a Good Parent – this is one area where many parents simply lose track and go completely in the wrong direction. This is not the time to “buy” their love or to forget about discipline. This will only makes things worse between everyone involved. Both parents need to make a pact that parenting rules will remain the “norm” during and after the divorce. Believe it or not, consistently will promote a better overall outcome than bending the rules simply to make the kids happy during the divorce.
Don’t Forget About You – there will be times when you simply need a break, so take it! Develop your support network to help out on occasion so you can recharge your batteries. Letting a friend or family member babysit not only gives you a small break, but can also give your children someone else with whom they can discuss the divorce and how it is affecting them.
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