Having parents divorce is one of the most difficult experiences for a child to handle at any age. You can love your children with all your heart and still know that a divorce is necessary for your own health and well-being — and that of your family — despite how divorce might affect your children in the short-term.
Obviously, it can be difficult to arrive at the decision to divorce when you worry about your children. If you and your spouse know that you have reached the point of no return in your relationship, there are things you can do to limit how hard your divorce is for your kids.
Basic parental cooperation can help minimize the stress on your kids
Watching parents fight can be traumatizing for kids during a marriage and during a divorce. While you cannot undo any arguments that your kids have witnessed previously, you can agree with your co-parent to keep your personal conversations and disagreements private during the divorce. If you can agree not to discuss your relationship or related problems within the hearing of the children, but instead keep things light and positive, this can help prevent blow-ups that children might mistakenly think they caused.
Address the situation directly as a family unit
In most cases, the best way to discuss an impending divorce with children is to have a calm and supportive conversation with the whole family present. Although certain circumstances might require otherwise, most families will find that having a sit-down discussion where the parents can talk to the children together is the best approach.
While there may be a personal and complex reason for the divorce, it’s usually best to keep things fairly general for the kids, telling them that the relationship no longer works well. Children do not need to know the detailed reasons why their parents do not get along or do not want to be married anymore. Instead, they just need to know that they have done nothing wrong and that you and the other parent still love them and will always love them.
Stay committed to positivity in front of the children
Even if the other parent isn’t complying with the custody agreement or one parent is angry and blames the other parent for the divorce, it is crucial not to speak disparagingly about the other parent in front of the children.
It’s important to support your child or children’s relationship with their other parent. While you no longer have to be in a relationship (other than a co-parent relationship) with your former spouse, your child will most likely be spending a significant amount of time with each of you and will need to feel supported in maintaining positive relationships with both parents. Any negative comments you make now could cause a lot of stress and long-term damage to a child’s perception of both parents and even themselves.
While divorcing parents may not agree on much in the beginning, most can agree that you want the divorce to be as easy as possible for your children. A low-conflict divorce, possibly through collaborative efforts, can help make divorce less traumatic for the children.
For more on these matters, please see our overview of effective parenting plans in Texas.