Helping Children through Divorce
Divorce. It can happen to anyone. No one thinks about the possibility of divorce when they are happy, engaged or getting married. Then it happens. You’ve been in a marriage that is not working. You and your partner decide it’s time to divorce. But wait…you have kids…how do you tell them? How will this affect them?
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you and your children through the divorce process.
- Be honest with children in an age appropriate way. Kids don’t need the details of what isn’t working in your relationship; they need to know what is going to happen in their worlds.
- Children need to know they can still count on both of you when they need you most. Do what you say and say what you do.
- Children need to have their questions answered. In age appropriate ways try to answer questions they may have. If you don’t have the answer say “that’s a great question let me think about it and we can talk later.”
- Children need predictability. As much as you and your ex can – have set schedules, let the kids know what is happening before it happens so they have time to prepare and ask questions.
- Establish routines for things – even the leaving and coming back - if they start to stay in two separate places with you and your ex. Make things feel special and child focused during these times.
- Children need love and support. Continually love and support them each and every day.
- Children need rules and expectations – even during tough transition times. The structure actually helps them with knowing what to expect both from schedules and from the adults in their lives.
- Children still need to have fun! Continue to do fun things together and make memories together.
- Ask for help. If things are getting complicated or overwhelming – ask for help – from family, friends, neighbors, teachers, counselors etc.
Once you have children you will, oftentimes, have to interact with the other parent throughout your child’s lifetime. Ask yourself, “How do we want those interactions to go?” I often suggest, even when splitting up, that parents come for counseling to learn how to co-parent together well for the sake of their children. FamilyMeans can help with this. We have trained staff who can work with both parents to discuss how to best parent in the midst of separating. FamilyMeans also can help children process and work through this big transition in their lives. We’re here for you and your family contact us at 651-439-4840 to get started.
Erin Rowlson, LMFT
Director of Mental Health Services