Like most good parents in Ohio and throughout the nation, you want what is best for your children. If you have been parenting for a handful of years or more, you already know that, sometimes, what your kids want and what you believe is best for them may not coincide. It can be difficult to carry out tough love in such situations. You believe that in the long run, however, your children will understand you’ve always had their best interests in mind.
When you told your kids you were getting divorced, each of them may have reacted differently. Some children become reclusive when they receive news that disappoints them. On the other hand, an outgoing child may pull no punches in voicing an opinion on the matter. You want to make sure your children know you love them and will be there to support them as they adapt to a new lifestyle. Doing so may be easier if you know where to turn for outside support, if needed.
Remember who’s who
It can be very tempting to lean on your children, especially older ones, for emotional support as you work your way through divorce. This is generally a very bad idea as it blurs the lines between adulthood and childhood and complicates the parent/child relationship. It can also (albeit, perhaps unintentionally) pit children against the other parent, which may do more harm than good as time goes on.
Keep contentious matters private
You and your former spouse may disagree about certain issues regarding custody, finances or other legal matters during divorce proceedings. Disagreements between parents can negatively affect children, especially if you discuss such issues in front of your kids. Since you’ll spend time with your children without their other parent present, you’ll also want to resist the urge to complain about your former spouse to your kids. Children love both parents and typically fare best in divorce when they maintain active, healthy relationships with both as well.
Maintain structure and routine
When it comes to adapting to life after divorce, the less disruption to daily routines and the family living structure, the better. Your children may feel very stressed if they are hit with new rules and lifestyle changes every day. It helps a lot if they can keep most of their usual routines and family customs.
Provide opportunities for them to express their feelings
Do you have a child who enjoys writing or one who loves to draw? Such activities often serve as useful tools to help children come to terms with their emotions in divorce. You can also connect your children to a licensed counselor, faith leader or other trusted adult so they can talk about their feelings in a safe environment.
Other types of support
The less stressed you are, the more likely you’ll be able to provide the encouragement and assistance your children need to move toward successful lifestyles following divorce. If you and your spouse are having difficulty resolving a particular matter, you can turn to an experienced family law advocate for support.