If you’re planning on ending your marriage, it’s only natural to worry about how the divorce will affect your children. While the transition will inevitably prompt a host of emotions—some of them undoubtedly negative—there are ways you can make the process easier on your kids. Let’s explore some of the most effective strategies below:
1. Present a United Front
If at all possible, you and your spouse should tell the children about the divorce together. If you share more than one child, you should also make an effort to tell them all at the same time. This will reinforce the idea that no matter what, you’ll always be a family.
Some parents are inclined to tell their older kids first. They might assume the older ones have realized something is wrong, or they may just want to give them plenty of time to make peace with the fact that their routine will be changing soon.
Experts generally advise against sharing the news in stages, however, since it places a burden on those who learn about the divorce first but must keep it a secret from their siblings.
2. Maintain a Normal Schedule
Kids thrive when they have a predictable routine. Once you and your spouse implement a new living arrangement, try to get the children back to a normal schedule as soon as possible. It’s also wise to keep them in as many of the same activities as you can, like sports, art classes, and after-school programs.
3. Encourage Your Children to Share Their Feelings
Divorce can prompt complicated emotions in everyone, including children. Ask your kids how they’re feeling often, and make sure to validate what they say. That means empathizing with their emptions, rather than brushing them off, albeit well-intentioned, in an attempt to make them feel better.
4. Give Them Age-Appropriate Choices to Make
Watching their parents get divorced can make children feel powerless. To give them back some sense of control and help mitigate chaos in the process, let them make age-appropriate decisions. For example, you can let them take the lead on decorating their new bedrooms or, if you had to move out of the district, on picking which sport they want to play in their new town.
5. Refrain from Saying Negative Comments About Your Spouse
At the end of the day, it’s probably in your children’s best interests to maintain a relationship with their other parent. As such, it’s important that you avoid saying things about your soon-to-be-ex that might alienate the kids.
Even if they ask outright why you’re getting divorced and you ultimately believe your spouse is to blame, you should frame your answer in such a way that he or she is not painted in a negative light.
Speak with a Michigan Family Law Attorney
Have you decided to end your marriage? Are you planning on filing for divorce in Michigan? For help with every aspect of the proceedings, turn to Smith & Johnson.
Since 1965, we have been counseling clients in a broad range of practice areas. To schedule a free initial consultation with a family lawyer in Michigan, call 231-946-0700 or submit our Online Contact Form.