Even though divorce is stressful for adults, it is often infinitely harder for children. The divorce of parents will often be the first and most significant trauma that young people experience before adulthood.
Divorce can destabilize a child’s sense of identity and social belonging. It can also make their home a source of constant, frightening conflict instead of a place of refuge. Parents contemplating divorce have the ability to reduce how hard the process is for their children by working together and making them their top priority. These are some of the more realistic ways for parents to minimize the harm caused by their divorce for their kids.
Insulate children from conflict
It is surprisingly common for adults to put their children in the middle of their disputes during divorce proceedings. Children shouldn’t feel like they have to pick a side, and they also shouldn’t have to hear a long list of grievances that one parent has toward the other. Parents should seek to avoid having arguments when the children are present, including fights over the phone that the children can overhear. They should also avoid talking directly to the children about the other parent in a negative fashion or having negative conversations about their co-parent that the children might overhear.
Find common ground by supporting the kids
Particularly as the children in the family get older, there will be many special events where they would like to have their parents present. Perhaps they play sports and want to see a large group of people cheering them on at a major tournament. Parents who can agree to share time at extracurricular activities can help the children in the family feel more supported when they engage in those special interests. Such an approach is usually better than dividing special events between the parents, provided that the adults can avoid conflict.
Keep things consistent
From making an effort to keep the children enrolled at the same school district to negotiating rules that parents will enforce at both homes, there are numerous ways to ensure that there is consistency for the children even after the divorce. A consistent schedule and predictable expectations for discipline and school performance will help children achieve their best even during a time that will likely cause emotional upheaval for them.
Parents who are able to keep their children separate from their conflict and work together for their benefit often find that divorce isn’t as damaging for their families as it may be for those who engage in scorched-earth tactics during high-conflict divorces. Making the children the focus of one’s choices may make it easier for adults to protect the children from the worst aspects of divorce.