Positive Parenting: Helping Your Child Adjust After Your Divorce

A father consoling his toddler.When you make the decision to get divorced from your spouse, there are a lot of people and things that will be affected. However, nothing will outweigh the potential impact that the end of your marriage can have on your kids. The few months after a divorce announcement are difficult for children as they grapple with complex emotions they may never have felt before. During this time, children are also trying to adjust to new routines and living situations.

However, you have the power to help your child adjust after your divorce. A lot of the things you can do to accomplish this are simple:

  • Maintain your child’s before and after school routines as closely as possible;
  • Tell your child you love them often; and
  • Answer your child’s questions about the divorce and your future in an age-appropriate manner.

Other things that make a child’s life less stressful during a divorce might require more patience on your and your ex-partner’s part. These positive parenting tactics include:

  • Not placing blame on your ex-spouse for the divorce;
  • Remaining cordial with your ex; and
  • Not making the child feel guilty for spending time with their other parent.

A divorce is heartbreaking for all family members involved, but these tips can assist you in helping your child adjust after your divorce.

Maintain Your Child’s Routine

One of the most disconcerting things for a child of divorce is adjusting to a new normal. One or maybe both of their parents have moved out of their family home. Perhaps the child has to start at a new school and make new friends. But children find comfort in routine, so maintaining their typical schedule will help them feel more at peace in their new reality. So if your child always wakes up at seven in the morning, try to continue that routine. If you always made pancakes for your child on Fridays, do your best to continue that tradition.

Remind Your Child That You Love Them

Children of divorce often worry that their parents may love them less now that their marriage is over. It seems obvious to adults, but reminding your child that you love them during and after your divorce will be a huge comfort to them.

Similarly, you can show your child that you love them by simply listening to them and helping them verbalize their feelings. By listening to your child’s struggles, you demonstrate that you are still their parent who loves them. Reassuring your child that you are still their parent, you still love them unconditionally, and you are always there for them will help alleviate any stress they may be feeling.

Answer Their Questions (Sometimes)

Honesty is one of the best ways to navigate helping your child adjust after your divorce. If your child asks you about logistics, timing, or other basic questions about the divorce, answer them truthfully.

Although it might make a child sad to learn that you are moving out or that they won’t see you for days or weeks at a time, it is best to address the realities of your custody arrangement head-on. The sooner a child knows what to expect, the sooner they can cope with what is coming.

Of course, there is some information that a child does not need to know, especially if they are young. If your child asks you why you are getting divorced, you don’t need to tell them the details.

It may be tempting to talk to your child about everything to do with the divorce and the court process. It may also be tempting to answer your child’s questions that they may have about the reasons why or other “grown-up matters”. In these cases, it is best to simply reassure your child that both parents love them very much and that everything will be okay. Instead of giving details, it is best to tell your child that you understand why they may have those questions, but that those are grown-up issues and that you aren’t going to talk to them about those things. Despite your inclination as a parent, children don’t need to know all the answer to every question just because they ask.

It is important to not place blame on the other parent, regardless of the details of what truthfully happened.

Present A United Front

Regardless of whether one person is more “at fault” for the divorce than another, it is important to be a united front when telling your children you are getting divorced. Do everything you can to avoid placing blame on each other in the presence of the kids.

Additionally, you and your ex should plan how you will tell your child that you are getting divorced. Having your story straight and knowing what you will and won’t say is important in maintaining a united front.

Remain Cordial With Your Ex

Although it might be difficult at first, it will make your child’s life a lot less stressful if you and your ex can get along–at least when your child is around. By fighting when your child is present, you are dragging out the circumstances that led to the divorce in the first place. Additionally, you could be making the child feel bad if you are fighting over custody. One of the best positive parenting after divorce tactics we can recommend is to remain friendly to your co-parent when your child is observing.

Don’t Make Your Child Feel Bad

While splitting custody after divorce affects everyone involved, there’s no question that it most prominently affects the child. Having to travel between two houses and spend holidays with only one parent is a big adjustment. If you make comments about how you wish your child could spend more time at your house or that they would spend a certain holiday with you instead, you are only making this harder for your child.

It may be tempting to ask your child about their wishes with respect to where to live, holidays, and other schedule-related matters. However, there are dangers in speaking with them about these topics. Most importantly, your child does not get to choose where they live or spend their time. If you discuss these things with your child, you may unwittingly empower them or cause them to feel like they have a say, when they really do not. Although it is possible under the law for a child to be interviewed by a judge to determine their wishes, in practice this rarely happens. The courts prefer that children remain out of the conflict between the parents, which includes the courtroom. This is partly the reason why the courts require that both parents attend a class dedicated to not putting the children “in the middle.”

We Can Help

Divorce is hard for the entire family. The lawyer at the 303 Legal, P.C. is here to help. Our experienced family legal matters attorney can help you navigate divorce and put this conflict behind you. You can reach us at 319-423-3031, or through our online contact form. Contact us today to find out how we can help.