The breakup of the family unit affects everyone, and the reality of divorce can be hardest on the children.
Depending on age, each child will react differently. How can you help your children adjust to the split and prepare them for life after the divorce?
Breaking the news
Along with the other parent, sit down with the children and tell them you are getting a divorce. Do not go into details but admit that the breakup is sad. It is important to reassure the children that you still love them and that nothing will ever change in that regard.
Managing different reactions
Children under two years may respond to the split of their parents by becoming clingy or by having a difficult time sleeping through the night. Pre-school children may feel that they are responsible in some way for the divorce. School-age children might express anger and fantasize about getting the two of you back together. Adolescents may become depressed. They may sulk and adopt risky behavior.
Maintaining a close parent-child relationship
How your children adjust will depend in large part on the way you and the other parent cooperate and communicate with one another.
- Do not argue in front of the children
- Do not disparage each other in front of the children
- Do not pump the children for information about each other
- Do not force the children to choose sides
In addition, do not relax disciplinary rules. Maintain the schedules the children follow as much as possible. Children thrive on routine and consistency. Above all, reassure them over and over that you love them and that you and the other parent will always have their best interests in mind.