Couples going through a divorce that don’t have children already have a tremendous challenge in front of them, but when couples have children, the difficulty increases exponentially. Not only do couples need to navigate themselves safely through the emotional minefield that is divorce, but they also need to help usher their children safely through as well. If you are going through a divorce, here are 3 things your kids need from you.
Often, divorce occurs as a result of couples realizing that they have legitimate needs that are not getting met inside of the marriage. In many cases, parties going through a divorce will engage in a desperate search to get long-unfulfilled needs met, which can in turn make then neglect the very real needs of their children. While parents of course have a legitimate right to have their own needs for love and intimacy met, they can’t do it at the expense of their children’s need for the same thing.
A United Front
Even when both parties agree that a divorce is in both of their best interests, emotions can still run hot. It can be all-too-easy to vent to children in the heat of the moment. This is a mistake. It can be easy to want your children to experience the same frustrations towards your soon-to-be-ex spouse that you do. Again, this is a mistake. Children love both of their parents and feeling torn between them is agony. If you need to vent, get a therapist. While attorneys can often get a bad rap, a good family attorney can actually help keep things civil rather than making things uglier. An attorney can help you to set boundaries and expectations for conduct that can keep everyone communicating well and avoiding damaging behaviors. Remember that as a parent you will be able to process the situation much easier than your child, so do everything you can to get over petty disputes and agree to do what is best for the kids above anything else.
To Know You Are Still a Family
While a couple may get divorced, a family does not and that is important for couples to keep in mind. Your children’s father will always be their father, as will their mother. Divorce doesn’t change that, no matter how much couples might wish that it did. When you have children with someone, you are connected for life, like it or not, so you might as well make the best of it. Unfortunately, even when the divorce is necessary due to severe abuse, if it is between the two biological parents of the children, there is still an emotional minefield to navigate because—for better or worse—you are still a family.
A divorce is not just a legal matter, it is a painful severing of emotional ties. It may seem like making your spouse the enemy can help make the severing less painful, but it doesn’t. All it does is create more stress for your children. As difficult and painful as it may be, the best thing you can do for your children is to not make their other parent the enemy. One of the best ways to do that is to both try and keep the needs of your children in mind and meet them as best as you can.