Just before telling your children you were planning to divorce, you may have worried over finding the right words. You understood from the start that the news would likely take them by surprise and wanted to make sure you told them what they needed to know without giving them more information than they might be able to bear, emotionally speaking. You probably felt somewhat relieved after you shared the news.
You may also have wondered what to do or say, moving forward, to help your kids come to terms with the situation in as healthy a manner as possible. It can often help to talk to other parents who have trod similar paths before you. Even if no two divorces are exactly the same, someone who has gone through a similar experience may be able to provide support and encouragement as you enter new territory in your family life.
Remember these things to support your children
There’s no such thing as a perfect family life; however, by putting your best foot forward and knowing where to seek support, you can avoid a lot of stress and help your kids move past the negative aspects of your current situation. The following ideas may be useful as well:
- Be honest but don’t overburden: Your children may ask you questions that touch on personal matters regarding your impending divorce. Honesty is always the best policy, but it’s never a good idea to share adult problems or issues with children. Learning to balance between being forthright and protecting your children’s innocence may be key to helping them adapt to their new lifestyle.
- Seek support from other adults: Your children aren’t the only ones who are likely to need a shoulder to lean on now and then as you navigate your divorce. While it may be tempting to turn to your kids for support, especially if they offer it to you, you’re most likely doing them a favor if you resist the urge and turn to another adult for support instead.
- Skip the venting part as well: Not only is it typically not in children’s best interests to expect them to provide emotional support to adults, it may also do more harm than good if you speak poorly of your former spouse within earshot of your kids. Blaming their other parent for your past marital problems or current financial struggles, etc., may cause them to worry or feel confused as to where their loyalties should lie.
By reminding your children (often) that you love them and that they can come to you for support without worrying that you’ll be upset with them if they express negative emotions, you can give your kids the tools they need to move forward to a happy future.
Where to turn for support as a divorcing parent
For emotional issues, you can reach out for support from community groups, faith leaders in your area or licensed counselors when needed. If you encounter legal problems, there are networks in place to assist you in those areas as well.