Divorce massively changes the lives of children. Watching parents experience a loss of love can be disheartening and tragic. Children also have to adjust to custody arrangements and navigating a challenging family dynamic. No matter the age of the child involved, parental divorce is an event that significantly alters their way of living and perceiving the world
Even though divorce can be toxic for both parents, the emotional health of the children should always be prioritized. The consequences and difficulties of divorce can be softened when both parents properly discuss the situation with their child.
When bringing up the subject of divorce, it is best to be direct and honest. Attempting to soften the blow can have unintended consequences. Children deserve to know why their parents are getting divorced and should be told with simple and truthful words. Long-winded explanations and beating around the bush can lead to confusion.
Do not sugarcoat
While some parents may have the urge to gloss over the hardships that come with separation, downplaying the negative consequences can backfire. Presenting the divorce as coming with benefits, such as hyping up the idea of two birthdays or Christmas celebrations, can make a child feel his or her feelings are invalidated. It is important for children to know it is normal and okay for them to feel sad.
At the same time, a child needs some sense of security. Letting a child know certain things will be the same can help. For example, they will still have a family, be loved by two parents and possibly go to the same school. When safety is not a concern and the custody arrangement permits it, it is beneficial for children to have consistent contact with both separated parents. Setting up schedules when switching homes can assist in developing a healthy routine.
Children need assistance in expressing emotions and feeling reassured. The words and actions of both parents are powerful in giving a child the unconditional love he or she needs. Amidst the heartache and confusion, children need to know their feelings matter. When a child feels comfortable voicing concerns and is confident that he or she is cared for, the adjustment may be easier.
No family can entirely avoid the harmful consequences of separation, but there are proper ways to handle it. Prioritizing a child’s emotional health is something both parents should work to achieve. Professional family law attorneys can assist in setting up beneficial parenting time arrangements for divorced couples who want the best for their children.