Your divorce will impact the entire family and will be especially difficult for your kids. Children don’t know how mom and dad can’t just apologize and get along. Most kids are taught that we can all be friends, and if we are respectful to others, then everything will be okay. It’s only until they grow up that they realize the stress of overwhelming debt, betrayal of infidelity or the impossibility or living with someone who you don’t respect anymore. As you navigate the emotional and financial aspects of divorce use these 4 keys tips to reduce the impact on your children.
Even if your divorce is amicable, your kids will still be affected.
Your lives are changing and with that comes fear, resentment and uncertainty. Don’t pretend everything is fine, it’s not. Instead, use this time to teach your kids about resiliency. Talk to them and show them that while you can – and should – feel your feelings you need to do it in constructive ways. Talk about how you’re feeling, journal, find therapy. Get a stress ball or punching bag for more active releases of frustration. Show your kids it’s okay to experience strong emotions, however it’s not okay for them to disrespect themselves or others in the meantime.
Don’t trash your ex.
This one can be a challenge, especially if you were damaged by your ex-spouse financially, emotionally, or physically. You can be honest with your kids.(Your mother/father chose another partner, your mother has a financial abuse problem, he/or she was expressing anger in ways that are not okay) but refrain from name calling and disrespect. (That lousy so-and-so spent us into the poorhouse! He chose that tramp over his own family! He’s just a wife beater!) Trashing your ex usually backfires. In your kids eyes you are the problem due to the disrespect. If you choose to let your kids know what happened stick to facts, and concentrate on shifting into a healthier emotional place, together.
Establish how the family unit will operate.
Abuse is never acceptable. If your ex-spouse hurt you or the kids, immediately act to legally restrict their access. Otherwise, have a very straightforward, and honest conversation about how the family will move forward. Unless you have a good, legal reason, don’t deny access to the kids. If one parent chooses to completely walk away, have them sign away parental rights and/or ensure you get the custody and alimony you’re entitled to. On the other hand, if both parents want to remain involved with the children, figure out custody arrangements and make sure to get it all in writing. Get it notarized or made a part of the divorce paperwork. Hiring a mediator, therapist or lawyer will ensure the details are worked out if you cannot do it yourself.
Put technology to use.
You have the kids for the day, and it’s also the night of the Christmas play. If you’re unable to get along with your ex, well enough for both to be there, take photos and videos and send it to your ex. There are scheduling apps that link both parents schedules so no doctor appointments, change in custody days or sleepovers get missed. If your kids are missing the other parent on the days they are apart, let them FaceTime, call or text. Keep in mind that your kids are not a tool to punish your ex-spouse. Allowing your kids to remain connected to the other parents helps everyone move on and heal faster.
Divorces are difficult, especially for kids. As you navigate through your divorce be sure to keep your children’s best interest in mind. If you co-parent effectively, your kids will go on to live healthy, happy, adjusted lives.
If you are seeking an amicable divorce here’s a great place to start. You can also contact me as I am a trained collaborative financial neutral.