Watching your children make sense of your divorce can surface feelings of guilt and concern for their future. Knowing some strategies to help them cope with a significant change to your family’s dynamic may increase your confidence in caring for them.
Recognize that adjusting to divorce will take time and patience for every person in your family. Going through the process together can help everyone in your family feel valued and supported.
Validate and process emotions
Your children will all respond differently to the news of your divorce. Factors including the relationships your children have with you and your spouse, as well as their age, maturity and psychological health, may all influence their reaction.
One of the best ways to help them adjust is to acknowledge their emotions and encourage them to feel, understand and process how they feel. According to The Mayo Clinic, counseling can facilitate this process. You and your children may attend counseling sessions alone and together to give everyone time to privately discuss feelings and concerns in a controlled environment. Counseling can also provide your family with insight into managing triggers and strong emotions in productive ways that will prevent harm to anyone’s health or well-being.
Develop expectations and routines
More than ever, your children need a consistent routine. If you choose to co-parent with your ex, you may try to agree upon similar schedules or routines to give your children consistency between homes. In addition, develop expectations for behavior. Set consequences for non-compliant behavior. Continuing to enforce discipline and keeping your children’s schedules as routine as possible can provide comfort during this unprecedented time.