How to Protect Your Child’s Mental Health Throughout a DivorceBy Moskowitz Law Group, LLC |
The process of divorce is often a complicated, stressful, and emotional time. If you and your ex-partner have children, you may be worried about the effects each stage of your divorce could have on them from the beginning of the process to the signing of the papers. Depending on the age of your child and their understanding of the divorce, they may feel confused, sad, or angry.
While there may be no way to completely shield your child from the negative aspects of the divorce process, there are ways for you to help support your child’s mental health throughout a divorce. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you introduce the divorce to your child and how to create space for communication throughout the process to protect your parent-child relationship and their mental wellbeing.
Some people mistakenly think that the best thing to do during a divorce to protect your child and their mental health is to never talk about it. In reality, children often benefit from an honest conversation with their parents about what a divorce is, why their parents are divorcing, and how the divorce will impact or change their life.
By telling your child the truth about the divorce situation, in an age-appropriate manner, you could help them cope with an altering lifestyle before the changes occur. Depending on the age of your child, they may benefit from discussing how their living arrangements may change if they are going to switch schools, and how any of their extracurricular actives might be impacted.
Additionally, it can be beneficial for you to reassure them about the components of their life that will remain constant. It is important to help remind them that certain things will remain the same, and that your relationship together could be a foundation for the future.
Of course, with any good communication, there are equal parts talking and listening on behalf of the parent. Leave space to listen to your child during this time and make sure that you answer their questions as best as possible. You may have to explain things multiple times, but prioritizing your child during this time can help them cope with the many changes and hopefully prepare them to be resilient during and after the process.
It is very important that you and your ex-partner show a united front to your child and work together throughout the process. While you may have issues with your partner, those issues should not negatively involve your child. Whatever your marital status, to your child, you are still parents so it is important to show respect and kindness to your ex-partner to lead by example.
Have a conversation with your ex-partner before you talk to your child and agree on what you will tell your child, what you may exclude, and what explanations you will give.
In the best-case scenarios, you and your ex-partner will continue to be a united parental force for your child, ensuring that they have love and support from two parents. While your family may change a little bit, your child could still experience loving and healthy relationships with both parents, albeit separately.
Pushing blame onto the other parent or pitting your child against the other parent can actually harm your relationship with your child and may be grounds for a claim of parental alienation from your ex-spouse. So, it is best to be respectful to your ex-partner for the best interest of your child.
Explain It is Not Their Fault
One of the most important components to explain to your child during your divorce is to reiterate the same point time and time again: the divorce is not the child’s fault. During a divorce, many children get the idea that the divorce is happening as a result of something they did, such as times where they argued with their parents, received poor grades, or got in trouble.
Make sure, within the conversations you have with your child, to set the record straight and reinforce the agreed-upon explanation for your divorce. It is also critical that you be patient, for a child may understand the divorce is not their fault one day but feel unsure the next day. By reassuring your child that both parents still love them and that they are not responsible for the divorce, you might help prevent the divorce from having a serious negative effect on their mental health.
Contact an Attorney Today
While some divorces are straightforward, others could lead to difficult arguments and complex legal situations. When children are involved, there are usually additional divorce elements that you should know about to ensure that things such as parenting plans and child custody are addressed appropriately. However, some of the best things to do as a parent with your children during divorce involves giving reassurance, love, and open communication with your child throughout the process.
The compassionate divorce attorneys at Moskowitz Law Firm have experience handling complex divorces with children. We could be a resource to you and your family as you go through your divorce to ensure that your children are prioritized.
Whether you are looking for a consultation and legal conversation or you need legal representation in your divorce, reach out to our knowledgeable legal counsel. We could stand by your side throughout your divorce to help build the future for you and your children you deserve.