Divorce can be very messy
There’s powerful and intense feelings at play. Blaming each other often gets tangled with practical stuff like money, dividing up possessions, and custody of the children. As parents, you’ll need to work on communicating with each other from the outset so that your children aren’t stuck in the middle of these issues. For instance, prepare them for emotional challenges, such as how you handle the day you separate. Making sure your kids know in advance can go a long way to help.
Help your children regain a sense of stability
What children of all ages really want is security, structure and routine. Divorce throws everything out. Giving them a sense of stability will help them to handle the changes.
Studies suggest that the strongest predictor of a child being able to cope with a divorce is how well parents get along. Now, this isn’t about putting on a fake friendship with your ex, it’s just about showing you are both capable of basic communication for their sake.
Let your kids know it’s ok to enjoy seeing your ex. Even if you’re boiling inside when you see them having a good time together, try and keep a smile on your face. Your children must know they’re not doing anything wrong by leaving you and enjoying time with their other parent.
Make an agreement
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As parents, you must decide how you handle things around your kids. This will take a lot of effort on both parts, but will help everyone in the long run. For instance:
Don’t criticise each other or talk negatively about each other in front of the children.
Don’t use the kids to spy on what the other parent is up to, by probing for information.
Keep each other informed if the kids bring up any worries so you can work together to support them.
Don’t get your kids to take sides.
Look after you
In order to look after your kids, you need to look after yourself. Don’t be a hero and suffer in silence – it’s not going to help anyone. Trying to handle this by yourself is very stressful and can adversely affect your health.
It’s completely normal to feel anxious, angry, hurt, frustrated – the relationship may have been awful, and divorce is the best way forward, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience pain. But don’t burden your kids. Talk to supportive close friends and family.
Being angry is OK
Let your children know that having lots of different feelings about your separation is natural. Whether they feel ok, angry or deeply sad, it’s all normal. Some children may be very vocal, others silent.
Smaller children can regress in their behaviour – bedwetting, for instance – while with teenagers you may see a drop in grades, or them getting into trouble at school. These behaviours are their way of letting you know they’re distressed.
Encourage them to talk about their feelings and let their school know what’s happening so that they can offer support during school hours.
If you're the parent of a couple separating- your reaction matters
You may feel totally devastated that your child is unhappy and separating, but you need to get your feelings together before talking to them, especially if they have children and you're a grandparent.
Your child will need support- the key step at this point is to try and avoid being judgemental and taking sides, even though every bone in your body may want to.
Focus on how you can stay connected with your grandchildren.Choose your words and how you behave very carefully during these turbulent times, because harsh words can potentially sever ties for good.
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