Children often have a lot of trouble coping with their parents’ divorce. This is partially because of the changes they have to deal with, but it can also be because of their troubled thoughts related to the divorce.
As a parent, you have to try to help your child cope with the impacts of the divorce. Here are some of the most common things children tend to think about, for which they may need your help:
My parents are going to make me choose a favorite
Some children think that they will have to choose a favorite parent. This isn’t ever an appropriate situation for a child, so make it clear that you and your ex will be involved in the child’s life. If possible, you should make sure that you are both available when the child has important events. For example, both parents could watch a soccer game or go to the holiday play.
My parents won’t be able to get along
Your child might be worried that you and your ex will fight constantly. This can make the child nervous if there are situations when both parents will have to be in the same area. Instead of arguing in front of the child and possibly ruining an important day, you and your ex should take the time to have difficult discussions in private. Ideally, your children won’t be present during these discussions.
The divorce is all my fault
Your children may feel as if they are the cause of the divorce. Even if differences in raising them was one of the reasons for the split, you need to make sure that you make it clear that the divorce was based on adult matters and not on anything the children did. You don’t have to go into specifics. However, use age-appropriate concepts and words to give them a general idea of why you divorced. Even noting that you and mommy or daddy didn’t get along may make sense to a child.
If I’m good, maybe they will get back together
Let your children know that you and your ex aren’t getting back together. Some children think that if they behave, their parents might get married again. You will have to let them know that this isn’t possible so that they don’t assume their actions will make a difference.
Some of these conversations might work better if you and your ex can come together to speak to the children. This could help to show a united parenting front, which will ultimately help your children.