How to Help Your Child Cope With Divorce
Divorce is challenging for everyone involved. Children can be hit especially hard; it’s a confusing and stressful process. There are, however, steps you can take to help them through the process and limit the negative effects. Below, we discuss a few tips for helping your kids cope with your divorce. If you have questions about Texas child custody or child support matters in Harris County, call a dedicated Houston child custody and family law attorney for help.
Don’t Say Negative Things About Your Ex
Many parents let their emotions get the best of them during divorce and say negative things about their co-parent to their kids. They may think that turning the child against the other parent will help with custody, they may be acting out of anger, or they might not even be saying these things on purpose; divorce is a heated process. Regardless of the reason, saying derogatory things about your ex causes your child to feel like they need to choose between one parent and the other, which can be emotionally damaging.
Don’t Bring Your Kids Into Your Conflicts With Your Spouse
Likewise, never bring your children into your conflicts. Do not ask them to choose between you, and do not ask them to act as a messenger between you and your co-parent. Keep your kids out of your conflicts with your ex as much as possible. If you and your spouse have a disagreement, resolve it between yourselves and away from the kids. Children feel worse when they watch their parents fight.
Remain Active in Your Child’s Life
Divorce can easily take up all of your time and attention. Children thrive on attention, and they benefit from having both parents remain involved in their lives. Make the extra effort to spend quality time with your child, show interest in their life, and remind them how much you love them.
Listen to Your Child
Children have a lot of complex, difficult feelings about divorce. They might feel guilt, anxiety, depression, stress, etc. They might also feel afraid to share their feelings because they intuit how stressed you may be, or because they do not understand their own feelings. Encourage them to share how they are feeling and what their concerns are, and be supportive.
Be Honest With Your Kids
How much you share with your children will depend on many factors, including their age and maturity as well as the specifics of your situation. But, regardless, it’s important to be honest. Plan for how you are going to explain the situation to your children. Tell the truth, but keep it simple. For example: “Your father and I just don’t get along anymore.” You and your spouse might want to tell your children together. Emphasize that just because you and your co-parent are no longer together does not diminish your love for your kids.
It’s also helpful to address ahead of time the fact that some things will change and others will stay the same. Preempt their questions by explaining where the kids will live and when, where holidays will be spent, etc. Let them know that you can deal with other details together as things come up.
If you’re facing divorce in Texas and would benefit from dedicated, compassionate legal help in resolving a custody dispute or reaching a divorce settlement, contact the Houston offices of family law attorney Maria Lowry for a consultation on your case.