The effects on children and divorce vary between night and day. Some children are too young to remember, then others, it has traumatized or affected them in some way, shape, or form.
Let's discuss 7 things you can do to make children feel safe and to help them through this process.
No. 1: Do not fight about anything in front of the kids, and this behavior terrifies a child who doesn't understand what is happening to their family.
No. 2: Get them on a consistent schedule immediately if we are in a custody battle for whatever reason - do not speak about it in front of the children. Make a schedule that they understand and know where they go daily.
No. 3: If you are an adult, try to control any bashing of your soon-to-be ex-partner. Those are the things kids remember. For instance, when I was about 20-23, I asked my parents to please stop- I was still trying to navigate the new world and wanted relationships with both my parents. Much bitterness was happening during my parent's divorce; I was 15 and started acting out because of it.
No. 4: Talk to your kids at their level. If they are younger, i.e., under 13, sit down and tell them in a way they can process and let them ask questions. It was a reeling pain when we told our kids, even though they suspected something was up. Idea: Prepare answers in advance and refrain from deflecting from those.
No. 5: Make both places they like to feel like home. I find many children do not feel comfortable. There is undoubtedly the whoever keeps the house scenario. If children have "grown up" there, that house may feel like home. They will adjust over time in the beginning (even though I encourage keeping to a schedule - be flexible).
No. 6: Focus on the children. Take them to do something or start a new tradition that they will remember and where they will feel special. This is so important -even though you are hurting, remember they are too and doing something fun: hiking, bowling, walking, riding bikes, going to a local festival. It can all start a new pattern of happiness.
No. 7: You are human, and it's all right to be sad in front of your kids as long as you are not in a fight with your ex. It's ok to cry; this is a huge transition for you too. It would be best to practice self-care to implement all or some of the above. Tell your kids if you feel comfortable with "why" you are crying, and help them understand that this is not a sign of weakness. It's being HUMAN, and it is OK.
1) Have you told your kids? How did they react?
2) How are you feeling?
3) How is your relationship with your ex?
4) What can you do to emotionally support your kids?
Just a few questions to get you thinking.
My heart is with you during this painful experience.