Here is a great article from Dayspring counselor Amy Thomas. She provides great information on how to protect children in divorce situations. I am sure you will find it helpful.
Divorce has become a very common word in today’s society. With statistics varying between 25-52%, it’s no wonder this topic is on the hearts and minds of many people. Divorce is always a very stressful event for the entire family. The husband and wife are losing a key relationship in their lives, someone they’ve shared their lives with, and the most intimate of memories.
Sometimes very painful wounds have occurred during this transition, and the healing process for this event will be long and difficult to say the least. But what I want to focus on are the other victims in this story. The little voices that are often left unheard – the children.
Let me say clearly that I don’t believe that divorce automatically means children are traumatized. I believe there are many factors that can and will contribute to how well the family handles the transition of a divorce. Having 2 loving parents who are willing to put aside differences and their own prejudices against each other and put the needs of the children first at all costs can make all the difference in the world. Here are some ideas to assist in helping children through a divorce.
Never (and I repeat never) engage them in negative talk about the other parent. Do not put the other parent down in their presence no matter what they have done or how justified you feel it may be. This person is still their parent.
Provide a safe environment for them to talk about what they are feeling. Do not push them if they don’t want to talk, but keep inviting them to talk and let them know that you are willing to listen.
Let them know what is happening is not their fault. This may sound strange to some people, but children, especially young ones, often internalize the world around them, therefore accepting blame for things that are not their fault. “If I had listened better maybe mommy and daddy wouldn’t be fighting.”
Make every effort to get along with the other parent.
The children will feel more at ease if they see that mom and dad can still get along and provide a united front on important events in the future. Never fight in front of the children. If they see turmoil with their parents, they are more likely to feel turmoil on the inside. If mom and dad are okay then I am okay and I can handle this.
Strive to work out a fair parenting plan that is comfortable for everyone. This can be a daunting task and it may be impossible for everyone to get “what they want.” But again, try to focus on what will make the kids most comfortable during this transition, while still being fair to both parents.
Watch how you talk and act in front of the children. Of course being emotional may happen from time to time and there’s nothing wrong with children seeing you shed a tear and having a discussion with them. But keep in mind they are watching you to gauge how things are in their world, especially younger ones. Remember, if mom and dad are okay they are more likely to say, I am okay and I can handle this.
Attend a family counseling session. Even if it’s just one time to check in and see how everyone is doing. This can give the children and you the opportunity to talk with a professional and make sure things are going well for everyone.
You love your children. If you keep their well-being in focus, that will be more than half the battle.