Although divorce is painful for the parties involved, the children of the marriage usually suffer the most. Some try to be brave, others become clingy, but all face heartache and confusion.
Here are five tips you can use in the important task of helping your children adjust to their post-divorce lives.
1. Avoid major changes
Children thrive on routine. Even though divorce means two homes instead of one and spending time with parents separately, a familiar routine can be followed in both places. Meal times, study times and bedtimes can continue on the schedule to which the children are accustomed.
2. No quizzing
Be respectful of the other parent whenever the children are around; do not criticize your former spouse in front of them. Keep adult matters such as financial worries or disagreements between yourselves. Do not involve the children. Also, except for general questions, do not quiz the children about life in the other home when they return from a visit.
3. Be yourself
Relate to your children as you always have; do not let guilt over the divorce get in the way of responsible parenting. Resist the urge to shower your children with gifts, for example. They want to feel that they are loved, and they need to feel secure. Firm, consistent and normal treatment will go a long way toward helping them adjust to this new chapter in their lives.
4. Encourage communication
Keep the other parent informed about schooling, events and any kind of news concerning the kids. If kids have news of their own to share, encourage communication. Let them know it is okay to call the other parent, even if they just want to chat.
5. Get help
You may need the help of a professional, such as a therapist or an attorney, if you find your children are having difficulties adjusting to the divorce. The same is true if you and your ex cannot interact without anger or hostility. Sometimes you need a little help yourself to help your children cope with post-divorce life.