Getting a divorce is difficult for everyone, but children tend to be the silent victims when their parents separate, often thinking it was their fault their mum and dad could not stay together.
That is why helping your youngsters cope with your divorce should be a priority, making sure their emotions are listened to and worries are heard before you start thinking about divvying up assets.
Here are some tips that might help:
- Use books to explain
There is nothing more important than talking to your children honestly as a united team when you and your partner decide to split up, as this will teach your kids they are able to open up to you about their feelings, instead of hiding them away.
However, some people find it difficult to express how they feel or the right words to say, in which case getting some books on the subject can really help.
Licensed child and family therapist Nancy Kislin told SheKnows: “Providing children with a variety of books to help them identify with different characters and different emotions can be extremely powerful.”
By being able to discuss the characters in the book, what they are going through and how they might be feeling, children might start talking about their own experience or, at least, find comfort in being able to relate to the story.
Licensed clinical social worker Julia Barthels advised parents to ask reflective questions when reading the books, including: “’Did you ever feel like him?’ or ‘What do you think about her?’”
Some titles that are worth looking at are My Family My Two Homes by Claudia Harrington; Divorce Is The Worst by Anastasia Higginbotham; Always Mom, Forever Dad by Joanna Rowland; and Divorce Is Not The End Of The World by Zoe and Evan Stern.
- Different coping strategies
To determine how to handle your child’s emotions during a divorce, it is also wise to look at what levels of conflict they were exposed to throughout the marriage.
Good Men Project revealed a study of 240 kids of divorce found their different coping styles were reflective of whether they experienced low conflict during the start of the divorce; high conflict at the start, then declining; or high conflict during the first year and worsening over the next five.
Those in the high conflict groups were more likely to exhibit both internalising (mood and anxiety) problems, and externalising (behavioural) issues.
The findings showed those who had a problem-focused approached to coping, such as trying to make things better by altering actions, lowered their chance of having internalising problems after six years.
Those who were exposed to high levels of conflict particularly benefited from a cognitive restructuring way of coping i.e. telling themselves it will be alright. Those who used this approach for six years were less likely to develop internalising and externalising issues.
- Bird’s Nest Parenting
Some people find focusing on their children’s needs during a divorce is the best way to help them cope. This may include ‘bird’s nest parenting’, which means the kids remain in the family home and the parents move in and out, instead of youngsters having to split their time between two residences.
Psychology Today said: “A bird’s nest arrangement is about ensuring that children’s lives are minimally disrupted, while the adults, who are theoretically more able to cope with the disruption, bear the brunt of the changes.”
To help make the process of divorce as smooth as possible, get in touch with family solicitors in Epsom today.