Divorce absolutely can have a devastating effect on children, causing uncertainty, chaos and hurt feelings. Divorce means change and change is scary, even for adults. But the impact of divorce can be minimized by thoughtful, prepared parents who are willing to work together for the sake of the little people in their lives.
First, make a commitment. Putting your own anger or hurt feelings aside; have a talk with your ex and make a commitment to minimize the impact of the divorce on your children. This will mean making some sacrifices, seeing each other more than you want to, giving in to things you did or didn’t want, all in the name of keeping things as status quo as possible for a little while so young minds and adjust to the changes taking place.
Try to keep daily schedules intact as much as possible. Now is not the time to be separating children from their family pet, or cancelling their dance lessons. Children grow up believing that nothing about their family will ever change. When it suddenly does, it is normal for them to feel extreme anxiety. They might have difficulty sleeping, concentrating in school or become prone to acting out. Trying to keep a sense of order and balance in their daily lives will help them feel more stable.
Your child might have a difficult time talking about their feelings during or after the divorce. Sometimes a family counselor or a group support group could help them learn to communicate their feelings. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to use your school as a resource for support during this difficult time. The school counselor is well versed in domestic situations such as divorce and will have many coping strategies to share with you and your child. The school will also want to be informed so that they can monitor your child’s progress at school and make sure that their school work does not suffer.
Above all else, no matter how difficult or trying times may get, never bad mouth your ex in front of your children. Never forget that although this person is now your ex, they will forever be our child’s father or mother. It pains a child to hear hurtful things about a person they love and gives them a negative and distrustful opinion of you as well. Always keep you game face on, and continually reassure them that you and their other parent have one thing in common; unconditional love for the children.