My husband and I are breaking up. It has been inevitable for a while, so I am well prepared for being single again. But I am worried about how the divorce will affect our children. I keep reading about how divorce increases the risk of children having long-lasting problems. This is why my husband and I stayed together as long as we did. But eventually, our differences got the better of us. So is there anything I can do to make things better for the children?
Hi Divorcing Soon!
Children can indeed face problems after a divorce. But there is a lot you can do to help. It all starts with the way you and your ex feel about each other. Maybe you or he are angry and bitter?
But exposing children to endless fighting, or spiteful custody battles is bad for them. So you and your ex should try to put your differences aside and cooperate so that you are both a stable, positive influence in your children's lives.
Communicate about things like school events and so on. Keep things like birthdays and holidays special, and avoid competing over who will make them the most exciting, or buy the best presents.
Many children believe their parent's divorce was their fault, so be sure your children know that it wasn't caused by anything they might have said or done. Avoid discussing adult issues such as finances with them, telling them your side of the story, or blaming your ex.
Encourage them to feel they have a home with both of you, regardless of how much time is spent in either house. If you are the custodial parent, encourage your ex to make them feel welcome in his house by providing them with a space for their things, even if it is only a bit of a cupboard.
Try to have what they need in both houses so they do not have to carry clothes and stuff to and fro. Both of you should include your children in all the usual chores, and keep their routine as much the same as possible. Children feel happier when they know what to expect.
Talk with your children frequently, and give them love, attention and discipline. Especially do not let them get away with things they would not otherwise. Children feel more secure with consistent rules, and when they know that the adults are in charge.
Make sure your children know how to reach your ex when they need to. And help them to maintain contact with other family members on both sides. It is all very hard work, but when your children know that things are going to be okay, they will do just fine all their lives.
All the best,