Going through a divorce is hands-down one of the most painful and disconcerting times. You’ve got yourself to contend with—feelings of sadness, anger, resentment, hope, hysteria, panic, disassociation—a collection and series of adult muck you must mire through to come out the other end in tact, and, hopefully, in a better place. But what about your kids? They, too, will be trying to process the change. So, what can we do to help?
Psychologists and mental health experts agree that children involved in divorce, no matter what age, need to be provided with a sense of stability during what can be a precariously unstable time. Reassuring them of your love is a priority. Bad-mouthing the other parent is harmful if your child is 2, 12, or 22.
Remember, your child shares DNA with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. When you disparage the other adult, you are unwittingly telling your child that you are unhappy with a part of them too.
Can something be learned through this process? Hopefully, the parents will cherish the well-being of the children and make expansive attempts to keep communication clear and kind. Modeling mature behavior and maintaining a good degree of respect for your once significant-other will help you all navigate less painfully through the separation and divorce phase.
Nothing good will ever come from abusive or passive-aggressive behavior. Even though you may be in a dark place, try to keep the image of light and love alive, knowing this stage will end; everyone has the possibility of surviving the divorce a stronger and/or perhaps even happier person.
We know there will be loss, but is there anything to gain from a divorce? If your choice is to be optimistic for the sake of yourself and your children, then the answer is yes, there can be positive outcomes.
For one, it’s an ideal opportunity to explore vulnerability and how best to nurture yourself and your offspring. Putting feelings into words, learning how to manage intense feelings, and discovering ways to help heal are valuable coping skills we all need to successfully journey through life.
In the best of all worlds, one result from divorce is that children stand to gain two “new” quality relationships. As each parent gets separate time with the child (away from the other parent), a stronger bond can form. Shared times may become more precious and impressionable.
If your children are on the younger side, the separation may teach them how to become more self-reliant and responsible. With just one adult, the youngsters may have to become more integral in the day-to-day mechanics of the household and even take on new chores. Additionally, each parent will have his/her own style of doing things.
Adaptability is a characteristic that will benefit your children their entire lives. It may be challenging, but attempting to see any positive effects from the completion of a divorce will help the healing process for everyone involved.