Ending a relationship is not the end of the world, but it could have future ramifications for children and young adolescents still living at home. Early positive development for children is essential, and divorces unfortunately put extra pressure on kids, both emotionally and socially.
Although you must make yourself happy as an adult and care for yourself before you can care for others, you must remember that children are a huge responsibility and need your love and direction.
5 Essential Things to Remember
Other Kids May Not Have Divorced Parents
Over time you will adapt to single parenting and taking on the world alone. Many of the actions of parents are emulated by their kids because they see their parents as role models. Kids may become isolated at school or aggressive towards other kids with a sound family life. Remember to explain to your little ones that not all relationships are like yours and that friends and feelings towards the opposite sex are okay. Reminding your child that both parents love him or her equally is great reassurance for the child moving forward.
It’s Not Their Fault
Children usually don’t know better, and as a result, may blame themselves for the break-up or the arguments at home as cause for the divorce. Questions like, “Why isn’t daddy [momma] here, is it something that I said?” are often signs of confusion and self-blame. Continuous decisions need to be made during the beginning stages of the break-up to reassure the child that they had nothing to do with the divorce or relationship problems of mom and dad.
They Don’t Know that Marriage Could Be Good
As the old saying goes, “Experience builds character.” What the saying doesn’t specify is what kind of character. Bad experiences usually promote bad emotional responses and children without married parents may look at marriage as a negative action. Explain to your children that not all marriages fail and life partners can bring you happiness.
Children are Consistently Looking for Mentors
Being on the same page as your ex-spouse is important to the development of family relationships and discipline. If you’re strict with your child to support discipline, but your ex-spouse lets them do whatever they want to do, your ex-spouse is not respecting what you’re attempting to do. Communication and similar parenting techniques will help the child to develop a sense of normality and consistency. In addition, favoritism will not exist and future family relationship tensions will diminish.
You’re Still a Family
As the years pass and the child turns into an adolescent and then into a young adult, you may be inclined to forget you’re still a family. This will continue to be the case until the end of days and everyone should understand and remember that no matter what age, people always need family. Moving on with your life as a parent through second marriage doesn’t mean that you forget about the first. Your first family should be part of your second family and vice-verse. This will help your child’s mindset and promote positive thoughts towards family that he or she can pass on to his or her family in the future. Look at the dynamic of your situation as an ecosystem rather a batch of islands, which will build mutual respect and trust across the family tree.
Change is difficult, but in today’s world, change occurs all the time. Every day is a new day and an opportunity to be better than the last. Divorce can be a positive experience for everyone involved, ultimately leading to a better and exciting life path. Always remember – life will go on.
Matthew Hall is currently a student of family law at Yale Law School, originally from Fort Lauderdale. He’d like to give a special thanks to the Law Offices of Peggy-Cruz Townsend for their support in his own troubles, their website can be found at http://www.lawofpct.com/.