There’s no getting around it; divorce is a trying and often painful adjustment for the entire family. For children, in particular, a divorce can feel like the end of the world. But while you likely have concerns regarding how you and your ex-spouse’s split will impact your children and their well-being, the good news is that children are incredibly resilient.
According to research, only a small percentage of kids experience severe problems in the wake of divorce or later in life as adults. While you can expect your kids to experience the short-term adverse effects from your divorce, such as anger, anxiety or betrayal, these reactions generally diminish by the end of the second year.
Fortunately, there are also things you and your ex can do to help make this transition as easy as possible on your kids – and yourselves. Here are a few parenting strategies that can minimize the toll of the divorce process on your children:
1. Set aside conflict
Divorce can often get ugly, but you and your ex should try to keep the peace after your divorce for your children’s sake. High levels of parental conflict both during and after a divorce are associated with poorer adjustment in children. It is after your divorce when your children will need the most support and stability to thrive. If you can’t communicate amicably, you should minimize your child’s exposure to your conflicts.
2. Keep parenting consistent
Even despite your best efforts, a divorce can often cause the quality of your parenting to suffer – especially if you are navigating your own adverse effects of divorce. Establishing a consistent routine and rules for your child to follow at both households can restore a sense of normalcy and stability. It also communicates to your child that even though you and your ex are no longer together, you both still want what’s best for them.
3. Provide emotional support
Though every child will respond to divorce differently due to their age or personality, they must have an outlet for their emotions. Listening to their feelings and fears and reassuring them that you will get through this as a family can help them feel safe, secure and loved. If they are displaying any mental health concerns, enlisting the help of a therapist or family counselor can help them process what they are going through.
As with most things in life, the pain you and your family experience after a divorce is only temporary. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure your kids have the love and support they need to thrive now and later in life.