How to Reduce Stress for Children During a Divorce

When a marriage comes to an end, it is traumatic for the spouses, but when children are involved the stakes become even higher. Children are not able to process and rationalize trauma in the same way as adults and as a result can end up feeling guilty, as if they have somehow caused their parents to separate. These feelings can become deep-rooted and stay with them as they grow leading to unhealthy anger and feelings of rejection. However, it is possible to minimize the stress that children experience when their parents separate and to ensure that they feel safe and loved throughout.

Protect them from conflict 

While you may have to exercise self-control, it’s imperative that you don’t fight in front of the children. In addition to the intense emotions you and your ex will be feeling, there will be plenty of practical and financial considerations to discuss such as the division of assets, property, maintenance and care arrangements for the children. These discussions should not be had in front of the children and should be agreed upon in the divorce settlement. You can get free divorce legal advice from many solicitors as to how to begin mediation and discussion. 

Encourage a positive relationship between them and your ex

Children have a right to a positive and consistent relationship with both parents. This means that whether your marriage has ended amicably or not, you need to encourage and facilitate an ongoing relationship with the other parent. Even if you are feeling hurt or anger towards your ex-partner, try to refer to them in positive language, refrain from criticizing them in front of the children and make it clear that they do not have to choose between their parents.

Make their routine as stable and simple as possible

Practical stability is essential during emotional turmoil, particularly when children are splitting their time between two homes. You can make the changes in their life as simple as possible by letting them take toys between homes, cooking the same meals, maintaining schedules such as homework time and bedtime. Keep clothes for them at both homes so they don’t need to live out of a bag. 

Help them understand what has happened is not their fault

You may believe that talking about the divorce will upset the children and so will avoid the subject, but this is not the best way to help your children. If you leave them to their own thoughts they are more likely to come to the wrong conclusions ending in confusion, anger and hurt. Try to explain that you still care about your ex-partner but that you aren’t happy living in the same home anymore. You’ve separated so you can be happier people and better parents for them.

Ensure they know they are loved and safe at all times

Children need to know that they are safe and loved by both of their parents and that even when one of them is not around, they are still their family and can be there when they need them. Give them the opportunity to speak to them on the telephone and reassure them that while living arrangements have changed, you will always be a family.

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