Getting divorced is more than just the end of a marriage, it is a monumental shift in family structure. Although more and more parents are working together to co-parent children and help ease the transition into a new version of family life, the process is still difficult for all involved.
Thankfully, those going through this process are not alone. Generation after generation has gone through this before us and we now know some strategies that help better ensure children can have a successful transition to post-divorce family life. These strategies can work for young and older children alike and parents can modify the strategies to account for each child’s age and maturity.
Let your children know about the divorce and give them an opportunity to share their feelings. Child psychologists note that this will likely be upsetting for all involved at first, but the power of listening without intervening can go a long way towards helping children with the healing process.
There are also many options to build a team of mental health professionals and counselors. This can help set children up for success during the transition and is often wise if the child’s emotions escalate or you are worried about their wellbeing.
Any parent knows that children often do better if they have some level of control over a situation. It can be very small, such as a younger child getting to choose between yogurt or cereal for breakfast. Parents set the boundaries and allow the child to choose within provided options.
The same holds true during divorce. Child custody and parenting experts recommend giving children a voice in the process so they can have some semblance of control during this period of transition. Examples can include having the child share their views on their relationship with each parent or, if using mediation or other amicable negotiation methods, having the child present for a session to share their feelings.
These strategies are a starting block for ongoing conversations and only part of the continued support children need before, during, and after a divorce. It is also important to note that although conversations are important, they are only a small part of the process. The divorce process and resulting child custody and parenting plans must also account for the best interests of the child. Legal counsel can help you to better ensure your goals are reflected within the proposed parenting plans.