The decision to divorce can often be the hardest to make when children are part of the equation. Trying to determine whether the psychological and emotional effects will be more detrimental if you stay together versus if you decide to split can be nearly impossible. Regardless of your decision, children will be affected, so here are some things to keep in mind.
Children Need Love & Constancy
First and foremost, children need to know and feel that they are loved and are safe. During a divorce, everyone’s world turns upside down. As a parent, you may not be in your best emotional state, and that is understandable. It may take extra effort to make your child understand that he or she is loved and that, despite the upheaval, they will be okay.
Children Can Sense When Things Are Not Right
As parents, we do our best to shield our children from the negative emotions that are flying around during the divorce process. Children have a sixth sense when it comes to this type of thing though, and they pick up on those emotions quite frequently. It may be a good idea to have an age-appropriate talk about what’s going on and why you might not be exactly yourself right now. This helps alleviate any additional stress that your child may be experiencing, thinking that your mood or the divorce is somehow their fault.
Children Are Adaptable and Smarter Than We Sometimes Think
Depending on your child’s age, they may already have experience with a friend or relative that has been through a divorce. There may be other kids in their class that go to dad’s house every weekend, or mom’s house every other week. Divorce is a more normal experience for them than it was a generation ago. Once they understand what the “rules” are, kids can adapt to this new way of life. Again, the important thing is to provide a routine that they can depend on.
Children Have Hope That You’ll Get Back Together
Children of divorced parents usually hold out hope that the two of you will get back together again. They will pay attention to every gesture, every moment when the two of you get along or appear to be enjoying each other’s company, and they will log that moment in their hope column. This is not to say that you should not try to be civil or friendly with your ex-spouse, but being careful to not create ambiguity is essential. Frank, age-appropriate discussions should follow any inquiries your child may have about reconciliation.
Children Are Not Messengers or Pawns
If things are not particularly copacetic between you and your ex-spouse, avoid using your child as a pawn to hurt or to get your way. All decisions that you make need to be in the best interest of your child. Even if you loathe talking to your ex, don’t use your child as a messenger. Either communicate directly with your ex, or enlist the help of a friend to mediate discussions between you and your ex.
If your family is facing divorce, talk to an experienced Florida divorce attorney to see what your rights and options are. We have helped countless families and individuals with family law issues like divorce. Contact us at (904) 288-4414 or online for a consultation.