When you let your children know you were getting divorced, they may have each had different reactions. Perhaps one of your kids stayed in his or her room for a day or so, isolated, away from the rest of the family. Another may have had an emotional outburst, showing signs of worry or fear. Every child is unique, so no two reactions to such news will be the same. The key is let your children know you love them and will be there to support them through it all.
Like most good parents in New York, you want what is best for your kids. During divorce, this will no doubt translate into making sure their best interests are a central focus of proceedings. It’s not uncommon for challenges to arise, especially if you and your former spouse disagree about certain issues; however, there are several ways you can help your children adapt to their new lifestyle. Since you may need a helping hand as well, it’s a good idea to set up a support network before heading to court.
Ways to help kids keep divorce stress low
It’s natural to want to lean on your children for support as you navigate major life changes in divorce. This is typically not a good idea, however, as it can complicate the parent/child relationship. You (and they) may find it less stressful if you rely solely on other adults to help you come to terms with your own emotions. The following ideas may also be helpful to your particular situation:
- Children typically experience less stress in divorce if they maintain active, healthy relationships with both parents. It’s important to avoid casting your former spouse in a bad light to your kids. They already know there are problems between you and their other parent; sharing negative details with them may cause them to feel as though they have to choose where their devotion should lie.
- It’s quite common to encounter several challenges as you move toward a settlement. If you are currently facing a particular problem that is causing tension between you and your former spouse, it’s best to try not to air those differences in front of your kids.
- Providing means for your children to express their feelings may help them keep stress levels lower. Do you have a child who enjoys drawing or writing? Putting thoughts on paper in a journal or sketching pictures to express emotion are constructive tools that can help children come to terms with their parents’ divorce.
- Children tend to thrive on structure and routine. The less your kids’ daily lives have to change, the better. Children may become highly stressed if they feel like the rug has been pulled out from beneath them regarding their usual habits and family customs.
Also, adult matters are best kept between adults. You may assume your kids know you love them, but most children want to hear their parents say it. Reminding your kids that your divorce is not their fault and keeping lines of communication open so they know they can share their feelings with you can help them adapt to their new family dynamics.
Adult support resources
It’s easy to forget to tend to your own emotional needs as you concentrate your efforts on supporting your children. Parents who divorce in New York or other states often find it helpful to talk about their feelings with their local faith leaders, licensed counselors, and trusted family members or friends. Many parents also turn to experienced family law attorneys for added support.