Trying to get through a divorce with as few problems and as little confusion as possible is enough of a challenge on its own. The challenge becomes much harder when children are involved. There are many ways a divorce can upset a child, and it is up to the parents to help shield them from any unnecessary difficulty.
While children are resilient, they may experience some negative effects due to a divorce, which is why it is so important to make as much effort as possible to minimize the potential impact of the divorce process on children. Here are five different things parents can do to protect their children during a divorce:
1. Leave children out of the divorce
When ex-spouses no longer wish to communicate with each other, it is common for children to become messengers between them. While it may seem like having a child deliver messages between parents is harmless, if one parent has follow-up questions that their child cannot answer, it can leave the child feeling anxious, helpless and as if they did something wrong.
2. Avoid negative language in front of them
Children often see themselves as the sum of their parents. When one of their parents insults the other, a child may take it personally. This kind of language can also make a child feel bad for spending time with the insulted parent and create tension between the two of them. It could also make a child resent the parent who said the insult.
3. Remind them the divorce is not their fault
A child who does not understand why one of their parents moved out or what is happening in their family may come to rash conclusions about what caused it. A common decision includes the child assuming the divorce is somehow their fault. Make a point to regularly remind them that they had no impact on the divorce happening.
4. Always put them first
It is important to remember that children want both of their parents to be in their lives. When a child has a recital or game, it can be hurtful for them to see that one parent did not show up because the other parent was present at the event. Parents do not need to sit next to each other or even interact with one another; it can be enough for a child to see both of their parents come and support them.
5. Embrace co-parenting
Despite how ex-spouses may feel about one another, they are still parents to their children. By putting their differences aside when their children need them, divorced parents can work together to play an important role in their children’s lives. With this approach, children are more likely to avoid the potentially negative ramifications of a divorce.