It is understandable that you have concerns when it comes to how your divorce will affect your children. However, rest assured that experts have concluded that parents' separations can have a less profound effect on kids than many people believe. The American Psychological Association points out that a child's adjustment post-divorce largely has to do with how his or her parents can resolve conflict and handle high-stress situations.
This points to why it is imperative to help your child cope with the new family dynamic. Here are four things you can do to help your kids make this adjustment as smoothly as possible:
1. Break the news together, if possible
The way that you tell your children about divorce can affect how they receive the news. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry points out that having the conversation as a family can help a child to see that even though you are divorcing, there is still love and comfort. Additionally, you should try to do the following:
- Avoid giving children too much detail as to why the divorce is happening
- Reassure children of your love for them
- Recognize a child's feelings, whatever they may be
Lastly, if a child feels that the situation has been kept a secret, it may be more harmful to him or her. Try to avoid waiting until the last minute to break the news.
2. Avoid a drawn-out divorce if you can
There is no denying that going through this process will be stressful on everyone involved. When the divorce drags on for an excessive amount of time, children may be especially harmed. For example, if a child's living situation has not yet been determined, he or she may feel lost going between homes or parents. Therefore, you should try to resolve the situation as quickly as possible without sacrificing your rights or the well-being of the children.
3. Be specific about your timesharing plan
Children benefit from having a relationship with both parents. When possible, custody or visitation arrangements should reflect that sentiment.
However, be careful when formulating these plans, as using vague language can lead to confusion. Outline who will have the children for holidays, vacations, birthdays and special occasions. Determine what time a parent will pick up a child for set visits. The more detailed you can be, the less room there is for an argument.
4. Be flexible
As every parent knows, having children can mean that even the best plans may have to change. Therefore, try to remain flexible when it comes to swapping weekends or trading overnights. Being able to work together sets a good example for your children. This reinforces that despite the differences between you and the other parent, you are still committed to what is best for them.
Each of these items may seem simple on paper, but the truth is that it can be difficult in practice. If you have questions or concerns, you should speak with a family law attorney who can help you navigate your divorce.