There has been a lot of research detailing the effects of divorce on children. These include lower self-esteem, worse academic performance, behavioral problems and other negative results which can be attributed to divorce. The reality is that while all of these things could certainly be the result of your divorce; but divorce need not change your child’s sense of security or personality. Don’t guilt yourself into thinking you have ruined your child’s life. Do, however, make sure you have done your due diligence in ensuring the marriage cannot be saved by reconciling differences. If staying married will cause your family more stress than getting a divorce, then the latter option will probably be for the best.
The following are some tips on how to make the divorce process easier on your children:
Make sure they know they are not to blame
Children often feel as though they are somehow to blame for the split up of their parents. While this may not be readily apparent to the parents, it is nevertheless a wise idea to assure your children that the divorce has nothing to do with anything they did or said.
Make sure they know their lives will not change drastically
Your children should feel as though as many things stayed constant as possible. Although the obvious has changed, make every effort to keep the family home and have them live there, or visit often. Keep them in the same school and don’t move right away. One stress at a time can minimize the negative impact on their lives.
Don’t talk negatively about your spouse
No matter what, that is still their mother/father. Children have long memories, and something you might say in frustration and anger can be remembered by a child for a lifetime – so it is best to consider the maturity of your children and choose your words carefully. If they feel hostility it can worsen the situation. And reflect poorly on your parenting skills in court.
Give your children enough time and attention to adjust to the change
Often, the most damaging effects occur not because of the divorce itself, but because the parents are so wrapped up in it, they forget about the kids. Sitting down to talk to them about it and what it means is taken for granted but can make a world of difference in their level of acceptance. Especially if mom and dad can be there to explain what is happening and reassure them that everything is going to be alright. Don’t forget to help with homework, and emphasize (and incentivize) the importance of good grades. Keep life similar to what it was prior to the divorce – chores should still be there, but so should fun activities that will allow sufficient opportunity for stress relief.
Encourage your child to seek help
Feelings of embarrassment or shame can often lead kids to suffer in silence. Make sure you make it clear you and your spouse are there for them. Encourage them to talk to peer groups, school counselors, or seek professional help to get them through this.
If you are facing divorce in the Alpharetta or Atlanta Georgia metro area, call us at 770-609-1247 to discuss how our experienced and caring divorce attorneys can help you.