Divorce can be an ugly business, and even the most agreeable of divorce proceedings leave room for conflict and complication. In any case of divorce or legal separation, the unfortunate ones who stand at the greatest risk of suffering emotional harm are the children. Confusion, sadness, fear, anger, and even guilt are just some of the emotions your kids might be going through, and divorce is a heavily mature concept that can be difficult for any, but especially young, children to wrap their heads around. It is important during your divorce process to keep your children foremost in your thoughts; they are your most important assets, because they are not assets: they are your family.
In order to help your children with your divorce or separation, a general idea to keep in mind is to dissuade the concept of “enemies,” or “sides.” If your kids feel that you and your spouse are against each other, they will feel as though they are expected to align with one of you; this can cause children to be torn between their two parents or to experience guilt for not “choosing a side.” Additionally, if children perceive the divorce as a scenario of conflict, they will likely feel a sense of guilt, as though they had done something wrong that partially or completely resulted in a loss of love between you and your partner.
Some ways to avoid the notion of “enemies” is to speak to your children about your partner with positivity. Make sure you, and your family, only say good natured and respectful things about the other parent; remind your children of the other parent’s good qualities, perhaps tell them stories they might not know about their other parent when you were both younger, and most importantly, make sure your kids know whole heartedly that they are, and always will be, loved by both their parents.
You can reinforce these ideas by making your children feel valuable and allowing their other parent to also seem significant. After separation, treat every instance wherein you spend time with your children as though it is the most precious time you will ever have, as it very well may be. Be punctual at any planned meetings, and be flexible and mindful of the other parent’s schedule so as to ensure that both of you get to spend as much time with your kids as absolutely possible. Be sure to stay in contact with the other parent; call them immediately if there are any problems or if plans change; ask questions and speak to your kids with great enthusiasm about the activities they do with their other parent.
Above all, remember that the love and responsibility you have for your children is much more important than any conflict between you and your former partner, and this is true of both parents. Divorce is hard, but it is a part of life, and like any life lesson, if handled correctly, you and your children can come out the other side with an even stronger sense of love and bonding than before…just remember to consider your child’s happiness above all else, and you will make it to the other side.