Parents have a difficult time talking about their divorce with their children. Some people want to speak ill of their ex-spouse. While doing this may make you feel good, doing it in front of a child can hurt the child, adding to a child’s fear and insecurity. It is important for both parents to meet with the child and explain in a very calm manner what changes are about to take place. You must jointly plan what you are going to say to your child ahead of time. Ask the child age appropriate questions and let them talk about what they are feeling. You must take all of their questions seriously. It is important to recognize that the divorce will have an effect on the child’s daily routine and future.
It is important that you do not discuss the details of the divorce in front of them because this can lead to unnecessary arguments. When talking about your ex spouse or partner, make only positive comments and refrain from negative or derogatory comments in front of the child.
Divorce can lead to many emotional and physical problems for children. Your child may feel that they are the reason that the two of you are separating. They can feel that both parents are abandoning them. Children can develop physical illnesses because of the divorce. They need the reassurance of both parents that the divorce is not their fault and that the two of you still love them.
Preschoolers have a very hard time adjusting to a divorce. If the divorce is hostile, they are at a greater risk of becoming “bullies” or being the subject of abuse. At this age group, males have a harder time with the separation anxiety than females. Also, during the adolescent years, it is a smart for both parents to work together. This can minimize the potential manipulation by preteens and teens of both parents, in addition it will help to curb potential rebellious attitudes of teens. Teens that cannot lean on parents or family members for support are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.
In any separation or divorce, it is critically important that both parents shower their child with love, discipline, kindness and emotional support, giving them ample opportunity to express their concerns. You don’t need to become a Disney Land Dad or Recreation and Amusement Mom to express love and support. Teaching a child how to love, relate to others, create a healthy work ethic and live in community are gifts that any parent can give to their children regardless of the parent’s socio-economic status and the divorce or separation. Throughout the divorce, separation and all of the years following a division in a family, parents must always place the child’s best interest above their own interests.