Divorce has a significant impact on all children, although, as a 2011 article in Psychology Today explains, the impact varies depending on the age of the children. Because young children are so dependent on their parents, they may become fearful and insecure after a divorce. Older children and adolescents may respond with anger or by withdrawing from the family. Regardless of the age of your children, you can take steps to minimize the impact of your divorce.
Put Children First
The Mayo Clinic offers what may be the most important piece of advice for minimizing the impact of divorce on children: put your children first. Don’t withhold child support in an attempt to punish your former spouse. Don’t prevent your former spouse from seeing the children in an attempt to punish. Make decisions in the best interests of your children, even if you feel hurt or angry.
Stick to Routines
The Kids Health website recommends keeping kids’ routines as normal as possible. Obviously, many things will change after a divorce, but try to remain as consistent as possible. Psychology Today stresses the importance of maintaining consistent rules for children. Day-to-day consistency will help kids feel more secure and less anxious about the changes that occur with a divorce.
Fight in Private
If you need to argue with your former spouse, do it where your children can’t hear you. If you suspect a conversation might result in an argument, save it for a time when the kids aren’t around. If you find yourself beginning to argue while the kids are present, either ask your former spouse to join you in another room or suggest tabling the discussion for another time.
Keep Adult Stuff Between Adults
Discussions about child custody and visitation, child support, alimony and other legal matters should take place away from the ears of children. Don’t complain about your former spouse in front of your children. Don’t pump your children for information about your former spouse. When you feel the need to talk about your divorce or express your frustration, do so with adult friends or with a professional therapist. Keep it away from the kids.
In most instances, children benefit from maintaining close relationships with both parents. (If you think it might not be safe for your kids to visit their other parent, talk with your attorney about your options.) Encourage your children to visit their other parent and to talk to the parent on the phone. Do what you can to facilitate visits, even if it means you have to do more driving or deal with more inconvenience than the other parent. Allow your children to express feelings about missing their other parent. If your kids can’t see their other parent as often as they would like, suggest they write the parent a letter or draw a picture.
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