Going through a divorce is never an easy time. With children involved, it is even more difficult. The silver lining is that many families go through these times and everyone, including the children, come out the other side just fine. Children are highly adaptable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do everything in our power as parents to make this time as easy as possible for them. Here are a few things both you and your partner should consider.
Communication during divorce
This is a biggie! When your children are at an age where they can communicate, you need to be able to tell them what is going on. Regardless of whether the divorce is amicable or not, it is essential to communicate with your partner about how you will tell your child together.
It is important to talk to each other with respect in front of your child and talk with respect when referring to your partner when your child is around. Using terms such as “we both love you”, “we will still be your mommy and daddy”, and “we will still be happy” is a good way to have the conversation.
While your child doesn’t need to know the exact reasons, nor should they, behind the decisions to divorce, it is important to be honest with them. Try not to make promises you can’t keep to appease their current feelings. Let them know that you will now live in two homes and spend time with each parent separately. That it may not feel great now, but everyone will end up happier.
It’s not their fight
This may be an obvious one, but try not to involve your child in your arguments. In fact, try not to argue in front of them at all. It can be easy to slip into a toxic habit of badmouthing your partner when feelings and tempers run high. When this happens, take a deep breath and walk away or ask your partner if you can talk about this another time. While it may be hard to do, it is an essential way to ensure your child gets through your divorce as unscathed as possible.
Get help for your child during divorce
If you feel that your child is not coping, it may be a good idea to call your doctor and get some advice on play therapists that may help them manage better. It’s a good idea to keep a lookout for signs your young child may be anxious – read our blog on spotting anxiety in children here.
For the ins-and-outs of family law: www.familylawclinic.org.za
Children book to help them express themselves on loot.co.za:
Toptots Early Learning SA