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05 November 2019

How to Handle a Divorce Without Affecting Children

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The breakup of a family unit is always challenging, but there are steps you can take to protect your children.

Walking up to your kids and telling them that you and your partner are splitting up, can be quite hard; in fact, no one expects it to be easy.

However, by keeping things simple, emotionally comfortable and truthful, you can take away some of the stress and pain associated with this sensitive issue.  

Here’s how to handle a divorce while limiting the effect on children.

1. Avoid divulging any unsuitable details

Your children do not need to know any adult details. If you do share such details, you risk confusing them, in case they don’t understand, or being hated for it because.

According to Wendy Corliss, counselling and psychotherapy expert at Living Consciously, “Divulging extra information may appear like you are trying to get your children on your side by asking them to judge the current situation, talking ill of your partner who is also their parent, or simply dumping too much on them. Especially with older children, carefully weigh up what needs to be said.”

In a truthful and heartfelt manner, share only what they need to know.

You should pay attention to how their lives will be affected by this occurrence. Will they still be in contact with both parents afterwards? Does this mean that they have to relocate?

Instead of focusing on your adult issues, focus on keeping stability for your children.

2. Stay unified as a team

Parenting matters are challenging. By sending clear and matching messages and setting up boundaries and expectations that have been agreed upon by both parties, in relation to the divorce and what is to come afterwards, the children should feel less worried and more secure.

When children hear inconsistent messages from the two grownups they have always looked up to, they are bound to feel confused. Your kids will benefit a lot from this approach even though you may both approach parenting in different ways or have conflicting opinions on a regular basis.    

3. Avoid trying to assign any blame

The reason for the divorce might be clear to you; or it might seem so.

You can be sure that your partner also knows, or thinks that they know why things are the way they are. However, all this doesn’t need to be shared with the kids. The main reason for this is that, you might force your child/children to choose between the two of you, if you start assigning blame.

It should not appear like there is someone to blame for what is happening, as far as your kid is concerned, as this is not healthy for them.

According to Amanda Woolveridge, individual relationship counselling expert, “Any negative opinions you have of your spouse should not be shared with the kids. Since they are both your kids, it is important that you come up with a way of talking to your kids in a neutral way when discussing your ex-partner. Set an example and create a positive out of the challenge”.

4. Talk to your kids

Start off by emphasising that whatever is going on is not their fault.

You will have to give the kids a valid reason for the divorce that in no way assigns blame; for instance, you can say that you no longer get along as a married couple even though your partner is a decent person, or you can say that you simply grew apart with time.

You don’t have to match the reason you give your children with the real reason you think things are the way they are. The separation is as a result of an external reason. You, your partner and your children are not to blame. That is all the children need to know, for their own good.    

5. Only talk about divorce when it is final

Unless you are certain that you will be going through with the divorce, do not tell your kids about it.

Once one of you is set to move to their own place, the divorce papers have been signed and you have agreed upon the custody details, you can then tell them. In some cases, however this might not be possible.

Discuss the best time to share the information with your partner. Since it is unfair to the children and your partner, for you to inform your kids about the divorce without consulting your spouse, give them a heads up before talking to the children.

6. Pick the right time

Since you and your spouse need to be there for your children, regardless of how they take the news, pick the right moment to break the news.

It’s even better if you can set up a support system, composed of other close members of the family, for the children. Their guidance counsellor and teacher also need to be informed. If they are close to sitting for an important test or just about to graduate, hold the announcement until they are done.

All in all, be careful when choosing the right time to break the news.

7. Be as consistent as you possibly can

When sharing details about future living and schooling arrangements, be as accurate as you can. Make sure that you stick to the information you provide. Avoid making any promises you cannot deliver on, at all costs. They will be less anxious if they have a clear idea of the upcoming changes and seeing that everything happens as you initially laid it out. 

Remember that your kids are watching you, so remain calm at all times.

Their anxiety levels peak whenever they sense the same from you. Furthermore, if you lose your cool, don’t expect them to remain in control either.

Grieving is normal, and is expected of everyone involved.

However, talking bad about your partner, their other parent, ignoring the children’s needs or losing control in the presence of the children is simply not acceptable from you as a parent. 

With a bonus tip for getting through your divorce without feeling like you’re losing control, the yoga and meditation experts at Mukti Freedom Yoga offer the following exclusive insight, “A simple way for you to stay calm throughout your divorce is by confronting, assessing and letting go of your negative feelings brought about by it. Not only will you be able to keep your peace of mind, you’ll also be able to avoid getting sick due to undue stress. The better you feel overall, the better your chances of having a successful, amicable separation.”

Follow these steps and you’ll be creating an optimal working relationship that acknowledges the needs of yourself, your partner and your children without getting messy.

Looking for legal advice regarding a divorce or family separation? Chat to a friendly member of the McPhee Lawyers team today. 

Author Bio

Nicholas May is an aspiring writer and content creator. He is driven to create content that increases website traffic, clicks and conversions. And hopes to one day launch his own business with the skills he’s learned.

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