Divorce is rarely easy, but it can be incredibly challenging when a child is involved. Even though you know what you’re doing is for the best, your child is too young to understand everything happening around them. So how can you protect them from the potentially harmful aspects of divorce?
Just explaining to a child what divorce means is hard enough. How you help them cope with the process will determine how much of an impact, positive and negative, the event will have on their life. If you’re not careful, your divorce, no matter how smooth it goes for you and your partner, could have a significant impact on your child.
Too many people fret over how to prepare their children for divorce and end up missing the most critical steps. We have outlined the five best ways you can protect your child from the effects of your divorce. Taking the time to follow these steps could make a world of difference for your family.
1. Tell Your Children What Is Happening
A common mistake divorcing parents make, especially when they have young children, is waiting to tell their kids what is happening. Parents who do this may think they’re making things easier for their children, but really, they are only making it easier for themselves.
A separation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and children can detect when things within the family have changed. But without explaining why things are changing (and what those changes are), the door is open for fear, doubt, anxiety, and confusion. In essence, you risk making an already difficult experience worse by leaving your child in the dark.
Once you and your partner have begun divorce proceedings, you should explain what is going on with your child together. Likewise, be open to answering their questions and keep them updated as things progress.
Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to explain every detail to them (for example, the specifics of why you’re separating) and to avoid subjects that may be too young to process.
2. Don’t Expose Your Child to Conflict
You and your partner know that your divorce has nothing to do with your child. If they are old enough, your child might understand that, too. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be unaffected by any conflicts you expose them to.
If you are unable to remain civil with your partner in the presence of your child, the damage they suffer can last their whole life. Children who witness conflict between divorcing parents can suffer from emotional difficulties, including depression and anxiety. Even if you aren’t arguing around them, children could detect the tension between you.
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid arguments, especially when the relationship is volatile. You and your partner should at least agree to keep arguments to yourselves. When this isn’t possible, make it a point to remove your child from the scene as soon as you can.
3. Support Their Relationship with the Other Parent
Young children need to maintain positive images of their parents during and after divorce. It’s yet another reason why you should avoid arguing in front of them or involving them in your conflicts. On the other hand, however, you should actively support their image of the other parent.
One way to do this is to make sure you always talk to them about your partner in a positive light. Regardless of your feelings, you shouldn’t try to paint the child’s perception with your own. It’s unfair to them and could prove damaging to you during divorce proceedings.
In addition, be flexible with visitation after the divorce. It would be best to express interest in what they did and how they felt while away. The idea is to make them feel comfortable and open up to both parents, so there will be less doubt over what’s happening in your child’s life.
4. Don’t Put Off Your Own Recovery
When parents divorce, it’s not unusual for them to put up a strong front for the people around them. They think that they won’t bother other people with their problems by hiding their emotions. Unfortunately, while it’s a nice sentiment, they do so at the risk of stunting the healing process for themselves.
It’s essential to be open about how you’re dealing with negative emotions, especially with your child, because they’ll be looking to your example. If they start to struggle themselves, they need to know that it’s okay to express themselves and seek help. Otherwise, they may think the expectation is to suffer in silence, which can cause long-term problems.
During this time, it’s essential that you lead by example and directly encourage your child to share their thoughts and emotions with you. You may also find it helpful to seek counseling for your child for additional support. The more support you have in place for your child, the better equipped they will be to handle the changes in their life healthily.
Let Hunter Fowler Help You Navigate Your Divorce Proceedings
With everything that has to get done as part of a divorce, protecting and supporting your child is of the utmost importance. But it can be hard to balance all of these new changes so that everything gets addressed. If you aren’t careful, you risk making critical mistakes that could make your divorce that much harder for you (and your child) to deal with.
But with help from divorce attorney Hunter Fowler, you won’t have to worry.
Now more than ever, you need someone you can depend on to act quickly in your best interest. Whether you’re seeking an annulment, need help filing your divorce papers, or some other area of Tennessee divorce laws, Murfreesboro divorce attorney Hunter Fowler will guide you through every step with compassion and experience. Contact us today for a free consultation.