Scientific American reported that nearly 1.5 million children witness their parents' divorce annually. As parents begin the process of legalizing their divorce, they can become consumed with the details while trying to manage their own feelings. Though children are resilient, it is important to remember that they will need extra attention during the divorce process. Here are five things that kids need from their parents during a divorce.
1. Continued presence of both parents
Studies consistently reveal that children are more adjusted, healthier and more self-confident when they have relationships with both parents. Either before or during the divorce, one parent usually moves out, which makes it more difficult to see his or her children each day. Although both parents no longer live together, a continued presence in the lives of the children is vital to their mental and emotional health. Consider the following ideas to keep in touch with your kids, even if you no longer live at the same address:
- Drive your child to school
- Enjoy an afterschool snack or a quick bite to eat
- Continue to attend your child's games, performances or other events
- Call or text regularly
2. Someone to listen and offer reassurance
Kids' opinions and emotions can be overlooked during tense situations. Children need to be heard. Let your child speak freely about his/her thoughts and feelings. Ask questions and try to understand how they are feeling. It is normal for a child to feel angry or mildly depressed during a divorce. Constantly reassure your child of your love for him or her.
3. Open communication
The previous tip highlights the importance of listening, while this tip showcases the value of you speaking with your children. Honest and open information should be shared with your children; if they ask a direct question about the divorce, you should answer it truthfully and with an age-appropriate response. This type of honest dialogue can go a long way to sooth a child's anxieties.
4. New routines
During the divorce, some parents start to dramatically change their lives and schedules. As children settle into their new lives, it is important to instill new routines. Routines will help create a stability, which helps reduce anxiety in kids.
5. Civility between parents
Divorces are notorious for instigating intense emotions, particularly in divorces that include custody battles. Children, however, need to see their parents model civility. This includes:
- Positive language especially when talking about the other parent
- Not using visitation as a pawn in legal disputes
- Not forcing the child to choose sides
When parents are civil to one another, the children feel more secure, less stressed and less angry.
In an effort to keep a peaceful and amicable relationship, opting to use mediation for divorce and child custody may further help children transition to their new life. If you are ready to divorce and want to avoid the legal battle, Divorce Mediation Centers of Texas is ready to assist you.