If you are going through a divorce, you understand just how difficult the situation can be. The adjustment to a new lifestyle, the uncertainty of the future, and the ever-present emotional turbulence all present great challenges even to an adult with a fairly good grasp of the circumstances. Unless you experienced your own parents’ divorce as a child, it can be very hard to see things from your child’s perspective. No matter how difficult, however, it is up to you and your spouse to do everything you can to help your child through the process with his or her best interests in mind.
Be Honest but Be Careful
From the very beginning, it is important to approach divorce honestly with your child. That, though, does not mean he or she needs every detail. Some things are, obviously, inappropriate for children. Divorce and parenting experts offer volumes of advice about how talk to your child about divorce, and much of it can be simplified into a few concise points:
- Work together with your spouse;
- Be straightforward, while remaining age-appropriate;
- Reassure, show, and remind your child again that he or she is loved; and
- Ensure that the child is clearly and consistently made aware by both parents that the divorce is not his or her fault.
Many children will internalize their feelings about divorce because they can see that their parents are already dealing with so many issues, and they do not want to add to the parents’ stress. Over time, refusing to confront and address strong emotions can lead to emotional instability in the child, and may contribute to behavior problems or depression.
While you cannot make your child talk to you, you can provide a safe, loving environment that encourages openness and communication. No matter what type of feelings your child may express, do your best to never respond in anger; that will only discourage future attempts to talk. If the situation warrants concern, by all means, address it appropriately, but in a supportive way that validates and affirms your child. Also, avoid taking offense if your child chooses to seek support elsewhere; in fact, encourage him or her to talk to trusted friends, family members, or counselors. For a child experiencing divorce, there is no such thing as too much support.
Remain Positive for Your Child
Throughout the divorce process, your child is likely to take emotional cues from you. If you regularly engage in catastrophic thinking, your child will probably act like his or her world is coming to an end. If you maintain a positive outlook, however, your child is much more likely to mirror that approach. In practice, you are going to have more difficult moments, and you are absolutely entitled to them. By limiting them and their effect on your life overall, your child will come to realize that good things in life are possible, even in the midst of life’s most difficult challenges.
If you are considering divorce in Illinois and have questions about ways that you can help protect your child from the uglier aspects of divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney in Kane County. For more than four decades, the team at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. has been serving the needs of families throughout the region. We know how tough divorce can be and we are committed to assisting you in reaching a positive resolution. Call 630-377-7770 today for a free consultation.