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How to Handle Divorce with ChildrenJune 7, 2019 - Relationship Articles
How to Handle Divorce with Children:
- Be honest about the divorce
- Provide support
- Keep conflict away from your children
- Maintain a support system
- Get your finances in order
Be honest about the divorce
One of the biggest hurdles when handling divorce with children comes with announcing the divorce itself. Be sure that you and your ex have planned out how to break the news to your children well ahead of time. An honest, thoughtful and age appropriate conversation is key to helping your children understand why their parents are divorcing. A simple explanation of, “mom and dad have grown apart” may be enough of an explanation for young children while older children will likely want more information.
Anticipate getting asked tough questions from your children as they try to process the divorce. Be prepared to provide your children with information to help them prepare for the upcoming changes in their lives such as who will they live with, where their other parent will be, and if they need to change school, among other significant changes. Above all else, be sure to reassure your children that you both love them and that they had nothing to do with the divorce.
Following the divorce, children can process their emotions differently. Some children may hide their feelings for their parent’s sake, while others may have visible mood changes. How your children will react depends on multiple factors such as their age, personality and parents’ disposition towards the divorce. It is common for children to experience any combination of anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, change in sleep patterns and drop in school performance. Let your children know that their feelings are valid, even if they cannot entirely articulate them. You may consider having your children meet with a therapist to have an unbiased individual help them sort through their feelings.
Keep conflict away from your children
It is imperative to keep your children away from unnecessary conflict between you and your ex. Fighting can make your children feel torn between their parents and impair them from processing the divorce. Regardless of how your ex acts, always take the high road when your children are present. Also, do not insult your ex in your children’s presence as they likely still love their other parent and will be confused about how to feel towards them. Lastly, do not make your children your messenger with your former partner or press them for information about your ex’s life.
Maintain a support system
Another key aspect in how to handle divorce with children is to build your own support system. If your children are old enough, you may feel tempted to turn them into your confidant and overshare your feelings about the divorce with them. However, your children should not be your sole support system. You may be feeling a combination of anger, stress, resentment, sadness and confusion among other painful emotions. By properly taking care of your own needs, you will be well equipped to help your children heal. You can find support by reaching out to close friends and family as well as meeting with a therapist or divorce coach who can meet your specific needs. By ensuring that you can healthily adjust and grow, so will your children.
Get your finances in order
As you prepare to start your newly divorced life, you will need to have your finances in order. Take time to examine your income and expenses. In addition to your normal expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, children’s schooling and activities, you need to take into account divorce related expenses and purchases towards your new life. Ask yourself if you need to find a new home, buy a new car, or enter your children into an after school program, among other financial changes. You can consider meeting with a Certified Financial Planner who is trained in divorce related financial issues such as child support, dividing property and tax solutions.
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