Coping With The Pain of Divorce

The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that approximately fifty-percent of marriages end in divorce.  Thirty-percent of those end in the first five years when young families are forming.  The statistics are startling and very alarming.  I do not have to list all of the ways that divorce can affect children because I'm sure you can imagine but with this alarming number the amount of children affected is very high!  So, what is a parent to do to encourage the healing process?

Avoid Arguing with your ex around your children.  Young kids do not understand all of the surrounding factors within your arguments.  What they hear is that you and their other parent do not get along and they feel stuck in the middle.  They do not understand why their world has turned upside down and will be very confused at the anger between both parents.

Help instill a relationship with their other parent.  It is crucial that you help to forge a relationship with your children and their other parent because they cannot do this for themselves. They need you to go to battle for the longing they have to be around the other parent.  They love both of you and long to have healthy relationships with you.   Putting them in the middle to decide who they will be with and when is just simply wrong.  Your marriage may have ended but your parental responsibility to your child's well-being in body and mind did not.  Guide them into a schedule that you and the ex have decided on.

Keep routine.  Children thrive in routine and consistent discipline.  They are looking to you to create boundaries and schedules for them which help them to feel secure and stable.  If you eat dinner as a family at a certain time each night, maintain that time consistently.  If you give them a bath before bed, continue that as well.  Each family is different in routines, but each family should have a routine.

Keep visitation simple.  Make sure that your ex has all of the children's information like doctor's names and phone numbers as well as access to the records should something arise.  Provide information such as work numbers and exact times that the transfer of children will take place.  I suggest meeting at a non-threatening location that the children like such as a playground, restaurant, or park.  This way the exchange from one parent to the other is not related to a child's home.

Keep other caregivers the same.  Switching a daycare or babysitter all of the time will cause the children to feel unsettled.  Try to avoid this and stay consistent with who watches your children.  The children will be able to develop a bond with someone that will keep their expectations level.

Do not rush into a new relationship.  The tendency for parents who are coping with divorce is to jump into another serious relationship without allowing themselves time to heal. Remember that you are not the only one jumping into this relationship but you have brought your children into it as well.  Are they ready? Are you really ready? If you are dating someone, avoid introducing them to your children until they become a serious love interest and potential life mate.  Begin with short trips for pizza or a meeting at the park for playtime.  Do not bring this person into "family" things such as dinner at home, bedtime routines, holidays, school events, etc until you are serious enough to marry this person.  Children will get attached to your love interest and if the relationship ends, they will encounter the feelings of separation that they have felt throughout your divorce.  Make sure you and the other person are completely ready for the possibility of marriage before you introduce your children. Being careless in this area has lasting effects on your children.  You only get one chance to raise them right. 

Listen to your children.  Your children will be honest about how they are coping with divorce and their feelings.  It is important to let them talk, cry and miss the other parent.  Their feelings are real, just like yours.  Let them have them openly.  Your children will also be very honest about any relationships you pursue.  Children are a great judge of character. If they do not like your potential mate, that might be a warning sign to pay attention to.  The best thing you can do for your children is to be available for their feelings to be heard and cared about.