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Divorce is a difficult thing for parents, but it can be even harder on children. They will no doubt wish their parents would stay together and may even blame themselves for the breakup. Attorneys are not therapists, nor do most of us have any formal family counseling training, but as we help our clients through their divorce process, the line between attorney and therapist can sometimes blur.
Within my practice, parents’ biggest concerns generally center around how their divorce will affect their children, and in my opinion, it should be the biggest concern. Many parents struggle with how much to tell their children, and when. The information you share with your children depends largely on their age. For example, you would probably want to be honest with your college-aged child about an affair either parent engaged in, but would not yet discuss that with your third-grader.
No matter what their ages, there are several important things every parent needs to do to help their children understand what’s going on and help them cope with their divorce.
12 Ways to Make Divorce Easier on Your Children
- Assure your children the divorce is not their fault.
- Try to remain consistent. Keep the same routine you did prior to the divorce.
- Allow your children to ask questions about the divorce, and be as honest as you can depending on their age. If possible, talk to your children with your spouse present.
- Do not use your children as listening posts. They are your children, not your confidants.
- Allow your child to be angry and give them some space. Remember, your child did not make this decision, he/she just has to live with it.
- Do not discuss money issues or any other problems due to the divorce with your child, then need to feel secure throughout the process.
- Advise the child’s school/teacher of the divorce so he/she can watch for any alarming signs or behaviors that need to be addressed.
- Do not introduce your child to boyfriends/girlfriends until you are sure this person will be in your life for an extended period of time.
- Attend your child’s extracurricular/school functions even though it may not be on your parenting time. Show your child you are still an active part of their life even though you are not living under the same roof.
- Do not shower your child with gifts trying to buy his/her love. They will love you for spending time with them.
- Agree on a plan with your spouse as to how you will continue to parent the children. For example, agree on bedtime, computer time, discipline routine, etc.
- Most importantly, DO NOT criticize your spouse in front of your children.
Just like you, your children will have to go through their own healing process, and if you communicate effectively, you can minimize the negative impact your divorce will have on them. Most importantly, children need to feel loved and secure. If both parents can agree that is the main goal, the likelihood your children will come out on the other side healthy and happy increases significantly.
For more articles about children and divorce, visit www.kansasdivorcesource.com.
About Shea Stevens Law
Shea Stevens specializes in uncontested divorces, but also assists clients in the Greater Kansas City area seeking divorce, modification, child support, alimony, asset and debt division, paternity and prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements. Shea is licensed in Kansas and Missouri and is also a court approved Guardian ad Litem for Missouri. Stevens received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kansas State University, and a juris doctor from the University of Tulsa. Shea practiced in corporate law for several years prior to opening her law firm in the spring of 2008.
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