Divorce is a traumatic experience. It is the second most stressful event in the human experience. Parents can find the process overwhelming, unpredictable, and difficult. The experience can be even more traumatic for children as they lack control of their circumstances. The adults around them are making big decisions for them. However, there are some ways that parents can help children hold onto a sense of security throughout this difficult process. In addition to finding support for you and your children during divorce, it is important to keep many elements of your children’s day-to-day lives the same so you can help ease the transition for them. It will also ease the transition for you.
Maintain Home and School Structure
One way to maintain stability for your children is by having one parent stay in the family home with the children. By doing this, they aren’t being uprooted from where they call home and losing their family structure at the same time. Financially though, this scenario isn’t always possible and a move is inevitable. However, both parents should put their egos aside and try to work together to work out whom can reside in the family home as long as feasible for the sake of the children’s security.
For children who are in school, it is best if you can keep them in that school. At the very least, do your best to maintain the same school for the duration of the school year. This may require a small commute on your part, but this sacrifice will be worth it in the long run for your children. If circumstances force you to move, maintain a home in the same school district if possible.
It can be almost impossible for your children to deal with divorce, a new home, and then a new school all at once. They may have difficulty dealing with all of the emotions associated with all of these changes at one time. Try to limit as many fluctuations as you can during the divorce so that your children can have stability in as many areas as possible.
Maintain Familial Relationships
It can be challenging maintaining continuity where family and friends are involved. You may feel uncomfortable taking them to their aunt’s house on your ex’s side of the family after a particularly unpleasant split. It’s important, however, that your children continue their weekly dinners or visits with their grandparents and family members, despite your relationship with your ex. Talk openly with family and friends that your main goal is your children’s well-being. Technology today allows contact while keeping respectfully distant. Through texts, emails, and messages you can arrange meetings for your children without an emotional interaction. Remember, you don’t want your children to lose out on valuable relationships. Do your best to foster the relationships with their family.
Continuing family traditions and rituals is also important. For example, if you all watch a movie and eat popcorn on Friday nights that should still be part of your family routine. While they may miss the other parent joining in, they will adjust to it. They will need that family bonding to understand the love and support of their family is still in place, despite the divorce. If your spouse always took the children out for ice cream on Sunday afternoons, they should continue to do so. It is immeasurable how much children look forward to these various rituals. There are plenty of memories involved in these family events and you don’t want to take away these memories due to divorce. Having continuity in their traditions will lessen the stress they are already feeling.
Start New Traditions
Now may be a good time that you and your children start new traditions. You can ask them about new traditions and rituals they may want to try. Perhaps you’re a mom that hasn’t gone camping but you’ve always wanted to. Show your children that you’re a strong, independent woman that can take her kids camping. This can be a good time for some new and fun adventures to come into your lives! These can be memories they make with you and their siblings that aren’t associated with the other parent. Support the other parent to do the same as well.
A divorce is strenuous on children so parents have to do their part to make it as easy as possible. Do your very best to keep as many aspects of their life the same as before. It isn’t going to be possible to do so with everything, but do what you can to sustain stability. You want your children to be happy and healthy after the divorce. By fostering security during this process, it will help them to heal because they recognize that your priority is their well-being.
Terrie L. Vanover