Divorce is never easy, but it’s the hardest of all on the innocent children who bear witness to their parents’ strife and bitterness. No parent wants to cause their kids harm, but many don’t realize how devastating divorce can be to children of all ages.
If you are going through a vitriolic divorce with your children’s other parent, below are some ways to help them get through the roughest patches.
Be their sounding board
Let them vent, both verbally and physically, in safe and supportive ways. Let them talk it out with you, another trusted adult or a therapist who works with children experiencing their parents’ divorce. Take them to a batting cage or other spot where it’s safe to let loose some pent-up feelings.
Keep them in the loop
Changes may be inevitable, but unpleasant surprises can be avoided. Help the kids get used to upcoming transitions, e.g., change of school district or neighborhood. There’s no need to dump it all on them at once. Ease into it at a level and pace they can better absorb.
If you are not going to see them every day due to the custody arrangements, find ways to connect with them daily. Facetiming, reading a bedtime story over a Zoom call, texts and calls are all good ways to remind your children that they are always in your heart.
Support them on their path to acceptance
Expect that many children will regress and act out as a result of their parents divorcing. These changes result in often overwhelming feelings they don’t yet know how to express properly. Help them learn how to navigate these uncharted waters and know that you will always be there for them.