Divorce is never an easy process and every member of your family will cope differently. As a parent, it is normal to feel concern for your child’s mental well-being if you are going through a divorce. While each child will react differently to the divorce depending on their age and maturity levels, there are a few strategies parents can do to help their child cope with this change.
Explain the divorce simply
When explaining the divorce to your child, do not feel that you have to give a long and detailed explanation. The more straightforward you are, the better. If possible, both parents should sit the child down and simply tell them that your marriage is not working out and you have chosen to live separately. Emphasis the things that are not going to change – such as how much you both love your children, transportation, school etc.
Reiterate the child was not a factor in the divorce
Some children naturally have a lot of anxiety, and it is common for them to immediately think they are the ones responsible for your divorce. During your initial conversation about the divorce, reiterate that the child had nothing to do with your decision. Mention that you and your partner still love your child very much. Mention this as often as you can, so your child doesn’t forget it; insecurity is a commonly felt emotion by children of divorced parents.
Do not ask the child to pick during the child custody process
Do not ask them to get involved in your divorce court proceedings. This will only work to alienate your child and put them in a very uncomfortable position. It is inappropriate for any child to be asked by a parent who they want to live with. If the two parents are not able to decide a suitable parenting time arrangement, at certain ages the child can have direct input to the Court on the schedule.
Give notice of the housing situation
Always give ample notice of the new housing situation and when one parent anticipates moving out. You never want your child to be blindsided by this as a parent moving out unexpectedly can cause harmful abandonment issues down the road. If possible, have your child visit the new house before the move and encourage them to bring over some of their belongings to furnish their new space.
Your child will send you subtle body language clues that will explain a lot about how they are feeling during this time. While you will want to encourage them to express themselves and be open and honest with their feelings, this is a lot easier said than done. Your child may not open up to you, but there is a good chance they will open up to a child psychologist. A child has a lot to gain by simply seeing someone and talking through their emotions; plus a therapist will help to legitimize their feelings and help to answer questions your child may be too afraid or embarrassed to ask you.
Talk to their teachers and coaches
It is important for all the adults in your child’s life to know what is going on in their home life. This way they are able to adapt their behaviors and can understand if the child acts differently than normal. These adults can also let you know how your child is acting when they’re not in the house, which will give you insight into their coping mechanisms and behavior.
Take care of yourself
Your child needs you to be the best parent you can be. You can only do this if you take care of yourself during this time, and find ways to cope with your own emotions. Find a new hobby when the other parent has your children. Get enough rest and exercise. These are big changes in everyone’s life – don’t forget self-care.
While divorce is a stressful time for all families, there are some ways a parent can ensure their child feels safe and secure. As long as your children feel loved during this changing time, they will soon learn how to cope with their new family dynamic and routine.
Michigan divorce law can be tricky to deal with by yourself. Our experienced Michigan family law attorneys will give personalized attention to your case and will work hard for the best outcome for your situation. Contact our Macomb law office today for more information.