While California is among the states with some of the lowest divorce rates, according to US News & World Report, this does not mean divorce does not occur. Regardless of the circumstances of your divorce, it is not easy for anyone. Getting to the “new normal” is challenging — for you, your ex-spouse, and for your children.
Divorce is traumatic for everyone involved, but often less traumatic on the adults involved than the children. Children often blame themselves for the problems their parents are having, and this can often lead to their acting out. Parents can prepare their children for life after divorce by ensuring they have the tools to help them cope. Here are some useful tips for making sure your children are not further traumatized following a divorce.
Tip One: Keep Lines of Communication Open
First and foremost, it is important you communicate with your children. Parents should also be willing to maintain their own lines of communication. Remember, regardless of any friction between the parents, you will both have to deal with ensuring your children grow up safe, happy, and healthy.
While the children do not need to know the details of your divorce, or the cause, they do need to know the divorce was not their fault, they are loved by both parents, and prepare them for the changes which will be made in their lives.
Tip Two: Avoid Being Too Rigid
While you want your children to maintain a schedule, make sure you are not being overly rigid. Remember, circumstances change — for your children, your former spouse, and in your life as well. Sometimes visitation schedules may need to be altered — avoid getting overly emotional about those changes, so your child does not feel they are being put in the middle of choosing between two parents.
Additionally, it is important to remember your child may be acting out in the months following a divorce. Try to accommodate their mood changes — this is particularly important in the teen and pre-teen years — without approving of the behavior. Reassuring your children that both parents are there for them is important and sometimes this may result in you needing to make changes to your schedule to ensure they can visit with their other parent, or grandparents.
Tip Three: Avoid Shutting People Out of Your Life
Divorces tend to “divide” families. In addition to being estranged from your spouse, your circle of friends may narrow, your family circle may narrow as your in-laws avoid visiting with you. Make sure you have a strong support system — for you and your children. Utilize those resources which are available to help you cope with what your child is feeling.
Your child’s other parent, school guidance counselors, teachers, coaches, and the children’s grandparents should be kept informed about any challenges your child may be facing. This will help them interact with your child, be on the lookout for any signs they may be facing emotional distress and may also help your child cope with the changes they are facing. Being open with friends, family, and those who interact with your children on a regular basis can be helpful for you — more importantly, it is very helpful for your children.
Tip Four: Encourage Your Child to Share Emotions Good and Bad
While you do not want to encourage bad behavior, you will want to encourage your child to let you know how they are feeling about what is going on around them. Let your child know the emotions they are feeling — anger, fear, and confusion — are normal given the situation. Make sure they understand they are free to discuss how they are feeling with you or with your ex-spouse.
The more a child feels secure in sharing how they are feeling, the more likely they are to turn to you — rather than take out their frustration in other ways. Encourage them to stay engaged with family members, with your ex-spouse, and with their friends. The healthier an outlet you offer them for “blowing off steam” the more likely they are to be able to cope with the changes which are going on in their lives.
Tip Five: Avoid Confrontation with Former Spouse in Front of Children
During the divorce process, there were probably many contentious issues including child support, spousal support, and parenting plans. Differences in parenting styles can confuse children and make it harder for them to adjust. Make sure if you and your spouse have a difference of opinion you handle it privately, preferably where the disagreement is not happening in front of the children.
Likewise, it is important your children see you and your spouse agreeing on things as well. Wherever there are areas of agreement, it is always a good idea to sit down and include your children in discussions which pertain to them. This type of interaction allows your children to see despite your differences, both parents remain committed to doing what is in their best interest.
When Circumstances Change and You Need Help
In some instances, families learn after a divorce which includes a custody and support agreement that there need to be changes. Changes to parenting plans may need to be made to accommodate schedule changes which can impact children or parents. If you and your former spouse cannot agree on these changes, we can help. The Law Offices of Steven M. Bishop, Attorney at Law, A California Corporation has been dealing with family law issues for more than four decades.
Remember, the wellbeing of your child is of the utmost importance and the more stable you can keep the relationship between your children, yourself, and your former spouse, the better for everyone involved.
A Family Law Specialist Can Help
Attorney Steven M. Bishop is a certified specialist in Family Law by the California Board of Legal Specialization and can help you and your family through this difficult time. Your children must remain a priority for both you and your spouse. We can provide you with assistance with many of the issues you may be facing including parenting schedules, support matters, and more. Contact us today at (619) 299-9780 and schedule a consultation.