Divorce isn’t easy — for anyone involved. Divorce is a common experience, even though the rate has declined from 50% of married couples in the 1980s to about 39% now. Some of the reasons couples wait to marry their partner, i.e. financial security, career stability, income equality, are just some common reasons for divorce.
When children are involved, it can be especially difficult navigating this change. That’s why Mind Balance Counseling is sharing our tips on how families can work through a divorce together.
Talk to your children together if possible
Cooperation and honest communication make a healthier divorce for everyone involved. It can be frustrating speaking with your ex-spouse despite hurt feelings, but remember that it’s important to help children adjust to the change. Tell your children about the divorce together. Allow them to ask questions, and answer honestly and kindly. Remind children that they are not to blame for the divorce, that they are loved, and that they’ll be cared for.
Develop a parenting plan that allows kids access to both parents
Research has shown that kids cope better when they have close contact with both parents after a divorce. You may choose a parenting plan that is more cooperative with your ex-spouse, or one that limits direct contact with one another. Both approaches are understandable as long as the focus remains on your children’s needs.
When forming a parenting plan together, address areas such as:
- Routine schedules: who will spend days, weekends, holidays, or vacations with the children? Who will drop off or pick up?
- Well-being: who is mainly responsible for schooling, health care, or child care?
- Belongings: will your children bring their belongings back and forth between homes?
- Exceptions or emergencies: how will changes to the routine be resolved? What if one parent has to cancel or go out of town?
- Communication: how and how often will you communicate with your ex-spouse? Will it be through phone, email, or face-to-face?
A successful parenting plan can have a positive outcome on both parents and kids.
Don’t force children in the middle of conflicts
Divorce can be painful and difficult for children. To transition into a new routine with your kids as smoothly as possible, remember to keep them out of conflicts. Their well-being should be the focus of your new arrangement, not as a means to spy on the other parent, feeling like you’re the “better” parent, or as a pawn to hurt the other parent. Being caught in the middle of a conflict between parents can stress your kids out. They may experience moodiness, struggle with depression or guilt, act out, or have problems at school. Even if you and your ex-spouse are doing your best to keep your relationship friendly, it may be time to seek professional help if your children are displaying worrisome behavior.
Seek counseling to address family members’ needs
A therapist can help both parents and children address their feelings and needs after a divorce. Through non-judgmental support, a therapist can help you address the unique challenges you face as a parent or child, and work towards rebuilding your life. Therapy can also assist parents in building a positive parenting environment, and setting ground rules for communication in the future.
To learn more about our couples therapy or group therapy, particularly for dealing with divorce, take a look at Mind Balance Counseling’s list of services, or reach out to us for more information.