Divorce can have a huge impact on almost every part of your life, especially if you and your ex have kids. Often your children are the ones most affected by the split, so it’s important to find ways to minimize divorce damage from the start. There are numerous things you can do to make the divorce easier on your kids, and although every situation is different, if you do these seven things, there’s a high chance that you’ll minimize divorce damage as much as possible.
Kids and Divorce Damage
Divorce is rarely easy on kids, and it becomes especially difficult if they didn’t see anything wrong with their parents’ relationship to being with. When there’s conflict and fighting between parents, divorce can come as a relief to children, but many adults are good at hiding their disagreements from their kids. Some children are blindsided by the divorce of their parents, which can lead to emotional and mental instability and resentment.
Without acting quickly to minimize divorce damage, you may find your kids start acting out, having problems at school or withdrawing from you altogether. You want to create a good relationship between you, your kids and your ex, so your kids can deal with the divorce in a healthy way.
Here are seven reliable ways to minimize the divorce damage.
1. Provide Reassurance
Your kids need to know that they are 100% not responsible for the divorce and that both of their parents love them and that won’t change. Both parents should make a consistent effort and arrange to see their kids on a constant basis. You should let your children know exactly what is going to change so they can prepare for what life is going to be like with divorced parents. Kids need structure and guidance, and they need to be assured that everything is going to be okay.
2. Don’t Argue in Front of Your Kids
Divorce can be scarring enough for your kids, without seeing their divorced parents argue. If you want to minimize the divorce damage, make sure you don’t disagree or fight in front of your kids or anywhere they can hear you. Parental conflict is one of the biggest sources of damage to a child’s mental and emotional state, so try to keep things as civil as possible. Your children’s needs should always be your first priority, so keep that top of mind whenever you’re communicating with your ex.
When there is less conflict between parents, children are less stressed and more resilient. They tend to do better at school and extra-curricular activities and are more emotionally stable.
3. Keep Their Routines Consistent
Your kids are going through a lot emotionally, so it’s more important than ever to maintain consistency with their routines, so they don’t become further confused or distraught. Routines should be kept consistent in both homes – the same bedtime, mealtime, wake-up time and extra-curricular activities. Your kids shouldn’t have to suffer due to their parents’ schedules. If they have dance classes or hockey practices they need to get to, you and your ex need to make sure one of you can get them there.
A disturbance in their routines can disrupt their lives and emotions even more, so keep their routines as consistent as possible. Even though you and your ex-spouse no longer live together, your children need routine and stability from both of you to minimize divorce damage.
4. Don’t Ask Your Kids to Take Sides
You and your ex should never ask your kids to take sides. This creates a lot of confusion and will undoubtedly result in resentment. You both love your kids, and it’s vital and healthy for them to know they’re loved and respected by both parents, and you have to recognize that your ex deserves your child’s love, too. Be conscious of whether you’re guilty of asking them to take sides, even in subtle ways. If you are, you need to make an effort to stop it altogether.
It’s emotionally draining for kids to decide which parent to side with, and it’s just not fair to them to have to deal with that situation. Your custody agreement should allow your child to spend quality time with both parents, so they don’t have to choose one over the other.
5. Stay Involved in Your Kids’ Lives
After a divorce, your kids will want you to stay as involved in their lives as possible. They want you to call, text, see them in person and ask them lots of questions about their life. If you don’t stay involved, they may think you don’t care about them, or they’re at the back of your mind now that you and their mom have split. If they feel like they’re not important or not worthy of your time, the divorce will damage them even more.
They need to know you care, that you’re there for them, and that you’re interested in what they’re doing or what they’re having troubles with. Staying involved will strengthen your relationship and make it easier for them to cope with the divorce.
6. Figure Out How to Co-Parent Properly
You can reduce the damage of divorce on your children when you and your ex learn how to co-parent properly. There are plenty of things you can do to ensure you’re effectively co-parenting. Here are a few of the most important ones:
- Set the intention to create a healthy, supportive co-parenting relationship
- Keep your previously agreed open schedules, but be open to a change in plans from time to time
- Work on yourself to be the best person and parent you can be
- Make important decisions about your children together
- Talk well about your ex to your kids
- Respect one another’s differing parenting styles
- Have a good line of communication and don’t communicate through your kids
- Create cohesive rules, routines, and values in each home
- Both attend important events such as parent/teach conferences, sport/extra-curricular activities, recitals, etc.
- Each spends quality one-on-one time with your children
7. Recognize Your Relationship with Your Ex Isn’t Ending, It’s Changing
When you get a divorce, your marriage is ending, but your relationship with your ex isn’t – it’s changing. When children are in the mix, you’ll always have to have a relationship with your ex, and it’s best to recognize that. The sooner you both realize you’re in a parenting relationship, the sooner you can start collaborating as a team. You need to communicate with each other to create rules and boundaries for your children. You need to make important decisions together about your children’s lives, and you need to talk about your schedules to make sure one of you is always there for your kids.
When you have children, you can’t expect to be done with your ex once your divorce is finalized. You didn’t work as a couple, but you have to make it work as parents. It will be a lot easier on both of you, as well as your kids if you work together to make your parenting relationship work.
Are you worried about the affects of divorce damage on your children? What do you see causing the most damage, and how do you plan to overcome it?