When I first starting thinking of divorce, like most parents, I first thought how this will affect my children, more than worrying about finances or being alone. There are basic rules to follow, and some resources that might help.
- Never put the child in the center of discussions or debates.
- Keep the children’s schedules as regular as possible.
- Don’t spoil the child to over compensate.
- Don’t leave hard decsions to the child, like “where do you think Daddy should live?” Gently tell them the important decisions you made with very simple, brief questions. If they need more details, they’ll ask – but only share what benefits them.
- Never unload on your child – that’s what your friends and support groups are for.
- Clearly state events as they are to happen: eg. “As a new family, things will be a little different. This Thanksgiving you’ll be coming with me to Aunt Susan’s, and on Christmas morning we’ll open presents together here, then you’ll go with Daddy to Aunt Cyndy’s.” Let the children always respond, and listen more than talk.
- Your kids are going to be mad. It’s normal. They didn’t sign up for this new divided life. Let the be angry – don’t react. Encourage them to talk with other family members, friends or counselors.
- Always, always affirm it’s not their fault – Daddy and Mommy will always, be there for them.
- Focus on the future – put pictures on the refridge of new vacation places to visit our the treehouse you plan to build. Forward looking helps decrease the tension of the current changes.
- Get other adults regularly involved with your child aware of the family changes. so they can offer support.
- Get help. Unless you have an unusually calm divorce, you are stressed and possibly depressed. Turn to your faith, join a support group, go to counseling. Better parent = Better child.
“Kid’s First: A Child’s Story”: http://www.kidsfirstcenter.org/childsstory.html
The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, by Judith Wallerstein
Crazy Times: Surviving Divorce by Abigail Trafford
“Women’s Divorce: Talking to Kids About Divorce” http://www.womansdivorce.com/talking-to-kids-about-divorce.html