Protecting Your Children During and After Divorce
A parent going through a divorce may face not only the grief of their marriage ending and the stress of dividing property and finances but also the worry of safeguarding their children during the process. Although it may not be possible to entirely shield your children from the emotional fallout of divorce, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact it will have on them.
You and Your Former Partner
To reduce the stress divorce can place on the children's well-being, it is vital to take action to limit conflict between you and your former partner. An important place to begin is by agreeing not to disparage the other parent in the presence of the children. This includes making comments about one another to friends or family when the children are within earshot. Even though your children may seem to be preoccupied or otherwise engaged, they are usually listening to what you are saying. When children hear negative comments about their parents, they can internalize the criticism. Furthermore, although you are no longer married, your children are depending on you both to be respectful to one another and provide reassurance that you love them and that they are not the reason for your marriage ending. When you both are cooperative and courteous, you can provide the support and the sense of stability they need.
Be Prepared for Reactions
When parents divorce, family dynamics and their children’s perceptions of themselves and the family will change significantly. Like their parents, children will have to adjust to living under extremely different conditions. Children may respond to these changes in a variety of ways. For example, a younger child may be confused and stressed by the changes to their life and routine and may respond by having behavioral issues. Older children may have a cognitive awareness of what is happening but may still feel they are to blame for the situation. It is important to be watchful for signs of conflict and anxiety and to be ready to talk with your children or get them appropriate support to assist them as they work through their emotions.
Consider a Non-Adversarial Process
How you choose to conduct your divorce will have a significant impact on your children both during the divorce and into the future. Electing to use a non-adversarial divorce process is often the least stressful for children and parents as it is rooted in cooperation between the parties. For example, using divorce mediation to reach agreement in a case allows the parties to avoid antagonistic court hearings and resolve their differences in a manner that is suited to the needs of the individuals involved. Those who decide to proceed through a Collaborative Divorce are committing to being open and cooperative as they try to reach a peaceful resolution with the support of trained professionals outside the litigation process. This process allows the parties to reach amicable solutions that consider the well-being of everyone in the family. By choosing to divorce cooperatively, you can reduce interpersonal conflict and make decisions for the good of your entire family.
Everyone in the family including the children will be affected by the changes which come with ending a marriage. However, there are ways to protect your children during and after divorce. We have experience helping families through this process and can provide guidance and support for you during this time. We are here to help.