Divorce is mentally and psychologically hard on people, and the experience is often even harder on children of divorce when they are placed in the middle of their parents’ conflict. You are an adult, and even if divorce is not your choice, you are generally better at processing the difficult emotions that come along with a divorce, such as anger, sadness or resentment.
As you work through these emotions, there are many things you can do to help your children while you go through the divorce process. Feelings of shame, guilt, confusion or fear are common among children whose parents are divorcing, and these feelings can contribute to problems later in life.
Taking care of your children and managing their feelings can help reduce the chance of future problems and make the entire experience easier on them.
Recognize that your situation is unique
The first thing to remember is that every divorce is different, so these tips may not work for you. You know your children best, so some suggestions might not be right for your situation.
Children may keep their feelings inside and not want to talk about the divorce. It is easy to get caught up in the many divorce issues you are dealing with, such as property division, child support or custody, but be sure to provide an outlet for your children to share their feelings.
Make time to sit down with them and encourage them to share their feelings about what is going on. This may not mean they are sharing with you, it may be that you set your child up with the social worker at school, a therapist outside of school, or a counselor within your church or temple community. Allow them space to share things with you and truly listen to them, even if they do not have nice things to say.
Sometimes, children blame the divorce on one or both parents, so your children could direct their anger toward you. Be patient and calmly answer their questions.
Check in with them regularly to see how they are doing. Make this a regular habit. Do not sit down with them once at the beginning of the divorce and never again.
What to do if you become emotional in front of your children
Do not irnogre your own emotions. You may want to hide your emotions from your children, believing that will be better for them, but it could end up causing more harm.
Children pick up on more than you might think and sometimes you cannot avoid getting emotional in front of them.
Tell them that you are feeling a certain way and reassure them that everyone feels specific emotions sometimes. Talk about ways to solve the problem. For example, you may tell them that going for a walk through the park helps you feel better and ask them if they want to do that with you.
Keep your children out of adult issues
When you interact with your spouse on divorce-related issues, keep your children out of it and do not use them as third-party messengers. They should not be involved in issues meant for adults and inserting them into the divorce may only increase feelings of guilt or shame.
Be patient. It takes time for children to adjust to divorce. In fact, it can be two to three years before your children fully adjust to divorce, and even then, there might still be behavioral issues if you or your spouse bring a new person into their lives.
Going through the divorce and custody process in Indiana can be complicated and stressful. There are legal professionals out there who provide compassionate advice and guidance, while fighting for your and your children’s best interests as you try to find solutions.