Divorce is unpleasant and can really take out a lot from one. In real sense though, the children are the casualties of any divorce. It is not only the couple that has to endure the divorce but the kids as well. The stress that kids undergo during this time is felt for a long time afterward. The stages of grief are felt on the child as well and in some instances, the child can get stuck on one emotion all the way to adulthood if the divorce is not handled well. So, the decision to get a divorce has become irreversible and it has to go through given the circumstances, how can couples help their children deal with divorce?
Listening needs to be the first thing you do. Listen to your child to ensure that your child knows that their opinion matters and that they are not insignificant. Listening to your child will alert you on the stages of grief that they are in and you can work it out together.
Then you shall need to break the news to the child in person. This has to be done by both parents at the same time. Having a discussion with your spouse beforehand about how the news will be broken to your child will help you keep off feelings of hurt, anger, resentment, and blame during the discussion. Look into what is co-parenting to see what it is all about and also study the child support guidelines. Ensure you have responded to all their questions.
You should know that kids are different and they react very differently. It goes without saying that the kids will react but it is important to help them through it all. They should know and feel that you care about their feelings and that they are valid and it is okay for them to be upset. Not all kids will react as soon as the divorce is finalized but they might hold to their feelings a little bit longer. These kids either want to please you as the parent or they just are not ready to deal with all these difficult feelings. Give them time and let them know that when they are ready, you are there for them.
After the initial reaction, you should help them cope with reality. Don’t take away their right to hope that things will be back to normal and mom and dad will be back together. It is normal for them to miss their family and all their hopes and dreams as a family. Let them know that you understand what they want but don’t encourage them and give any false promises. Be considerate of what they feel but tell them the truth so that they won’t have false hope.