Getting through a divorce is a difficult process. It affects not only the couple breaking up but their family as well. It’s even more challenging when children are involved. Research shows that children struggle with handling the divorce the most a year or two after it happens. They experience stress, anger, and anxiety, just like the parents do. It’s not only the divorce itself that puts stress on them. They need to change schools, move homes, and adjust to the new situation. It can also be more difficult when a new partner is involved, as it’s another adjustment they will have to make.
Divorce can affect your children’s mental health, as well. Studies have shown that parental separation can cause or increase the risk of mental illnesses. Even while you’re going through the process of divorce, you still have a responsibility to your children. If it’s possible, you should try to co-parent as peacefully as you can. If not, you can always seek professional help, either through therapy or other forms. Your divorce attorney can help develop the best custody plan that works for both the parents and the children.
As mentioned earlier, children often struggle with the divorce during the first two years. Some children will adjust well after the second year. However, most will experience some psychological trauma. To help the children adjust to their new situation, the parents will have to do whatever they can to ease the process for their children. Here’s how you can help them get through the divorce:
Keep an open communication line
Having open, clear, and honest communication is important. This can help your children can understand the situation. No matter how old they are, it’s best to let them know exactly what’s going on. Explain to them why the divorce is happening and what to expect when you finally separate. When coming up with the custody plan, it’s best that you present it to the children as well. This is a good example of open communication. It’s also important to let your children know that they aren’t the cause of the divorce.
Slow things down
You and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse might want to get the divorce over with it as soon as possible. Your children might not be able to adjust as fast as you’d like. Any sudden changes can cause more distress. Let them know ahead of time if you’ll have to move homes or switch schools. Give them time to adjust to the idea and try to minimize the number of changes.
Don’t pit one parent against the other
An important part of your children’s relationship development will stem from what they observe from their parents. If you are pitting one parent against the other, they might have trouble forming relationships in the future. Studies have shown that children of divorce often have a higher risk of experiencing divorce in their marriages. Children need to have a good relationship with both their parents. You might have something against your ex-partner, but you should allow your children to build a relationship with them. Don’t make your children feel guilty about visiting the other parent.
Seek professional help
It’s normal for children of divorce to have some behavioral problems during the separation process. It’s important that you can provide your child (and even yourself) with professional help. This will allow them to release their feelings and help you understand what their needs are.
Here are some interesting findings on children of divorce that you might want to take into consideration when developing a custody plan:
- Children of divorce that are under shared parenting custody have better academic achievement, mental health, and relationship development than children under sole physical custody (SPC).
- The conflict between parents doesn’t affect children as much when they’re under shared parenting.
- Not all parents who are currently under joint physical custody (JPC) agreed to this custody plan. But, their children are significantly more well-developed than children in SPC.
Of course, in some cases, joint physical custody might not be applicable. This is especially true if one of the parents is abusive. Sole physical custody should be awarded to the parent who has been abused. But, if the divorce happens to be a typical falling out, the children must be guided throughout the separation process. Your children’s needs have to be of priority. You might want the divorce, but they don’t. Children of divorce will often have trouble forming their relationships. That’s why it’s important to help ease them into the divorce.