When our children were 6 and 12 years old, my now ex-husband and I decided to divorce. It was not an easy decision for us by any means, and is very personal and unique to any family going through it. While some moments were more difficult than others, we remained positive, honest, and always put the healthy development of our children first. Now that our kids are 17 and 24 years old, I feel I have a good perspective of how our divorce affected them during various stages of their development. As you work through the dissolution of your marriage, keep these things in mind for your children.
Sharing the News
It’s difficult to tell your children that they may not be seeing one parent every day, or that they may be going from one home to another. There are a few key strategies to remember when you talk to them:
As challenging as it can be at times, parents should always remember that they model their own behavior to their children. If children witness arguing, they may become argumentative. If they witness anger and sadness, they may become angry and sad. Such emotions put them at risk of acting out, making bad choices, and becoming involved in toxic friendships and relationships. Both parents should try to model positive behavior with their children.
Keep a United Front
While you may have begun to build lives apart from each other, your children will always see you as “their” parents. Their level of understanding of the choices you made or will make as parents can depend on several factors. Their age and maturity may require different methods of communicating with them. Regardless, maintaining a positive and unified front when it comes to parenting will allow children to positively grow and develop successfully within all aspects of their lives.
Just as it is important for two people to parent together within a home, it becomes equally—if not more important—to remain in balance during and after a divorce.
If you have gone through a divorce with children, what was the biggest struggle you faced? What was the best strategy you used? Tell me in the comments below.
If you're struggling with how to model positive behavior during a difficult time, learn how to promote healthy relationships in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books.