Endings are stressful and emotional, no matter how many reasonable stances you take or how hard you try to sugarcoat the situation into a more positive attitude. The simple truth is, divorces hurt all around. Yes, even the healthiest ones where you can amicably end the marriage with your spouse and work out a schedule for both of you to spend quality time with your children. They are the ones experiencing something they have no control over, and they are entitled to confusion, sadness, even anger. How you help your kids process all of those emotions during the divorce, however, will make all the difference.
Protection in that literal sense of the word is not really possible, but you can invest time and effort into helping your kids through this transition, be supportive, provide them with guidance, and of course, talk to them as much as they need. There are other proactive steps you can take to help the divorce go more smoothly for them, so here are a few ideas you can consider.
Introduce a healthy activity
As a parent, you always want to put your kids’ needs first. This is also an opportunity to discover how you can use their interests to build up their health and to give them a healthy way to express themselves during the divorce, and exercise is one of the best ways to do that. Among many benefits of physical activity for kids, balancing their energy and keeping stress at bay are two factors that can be of great help when you’re going through a divorce.
You can even make it a family activity and join them, whether it’s swimming, surfing, or cycling. Then again, giving them their space to develop something that will be their own is a great way to promote independence and healthy choices while being there for them.
Seek legal counsel
Your own behavior will have a major influence on how your kids react, feel, and behave to the entire situation. In countries where a large portion of divorces includes kids, families need to take every precaution. For example, over 47% of all Australian divorces in 2017 involved kids, and the process is certainly not a quick one in the Land of Down Under. Simply put, when you have many months of complex proceedings ahead of you, you should always put your kids’ interests first.
The smartest thing families in these countries do is seek legal advice. Finding reputable family lawyers in Sydney has become the first step for many parents to make sure that their kids’ rights are protected and that they can protect their own assets. They guide parents through the settlement and disputes, and they allow you to focus on your wellbeing and the health of your kids during this difficult time. For all of these reasons, working with an attorney is essential both for parents and the kids during a divorce.
Create a safe space for conversations
Even if the divorce is amicable and it doesn’t take long at all, the emotional toll of a divorce on your kids can be a much more considerable one than you expect. That is why you need to remind them regularly that they can and should talk to both you and your former partner. If necessary, you can schedule a few conversations with a psychologist with experience in similar family situations to provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and tools to handle the divorce better.
Ask your kids how they feel, share the latest developments, and remind them that your relationship with them will not change. Ask them about their concerns and fears, and bring all of their worries into the open so as to help them build up and protect their confidence. Regular talks can help them heal more easily and understand the situation better.
Stick to a routine they like
One of the greatest sources of stability for your kids is their routine. Since they can no longer expect to share a family lunch with you and your spouse or similar daily situations, you need to create a routine they will be comfortable with even though they don’t necessarily include both you and your spouse. For example, set up a clear timeline for both of you to pick up kids on designated days from school or kindergarten, to have meals together, take them to their extracurricular activities, and spend quality time with them.
Bonding during this time shouldn’t be affected by your ongoing divorce, nor should they miss out on any of their favorite activities. Accommodate your kids as much as possible, and include regular, healthy socialization.
While your kids need some time to accept and adapt to a changing situation, they need to feel that there’s stability in this process, too. Routines, healthy activities, professional guidance, and overall transparency allow your kids to rely on a structure that will help them cope better and understand that they are not to blame and that they will always have the love and support of both of their parents. Now, it’s time to come up with a plan for your kids and prepare yourself for this new chapter of your life one step at a time.