Divorce is a very emotive topic, even the mention of it brings those who have been thought back to what it was like "back then". Divorce is the end of a relationship that needs to be grieved just in the same way a death is grieved. It's full of emotions that court cases don't help with. For many getting over their ex and through the grieving process is put on hold because of the court cases involved. So where do the kids stand in all this when two people they love most dearly are threatening to tear their lives apart. We the adults have to put them first. I'll repeat that We Have To Put The Children First! I know that's hard to hear but it's true.
Our children are going through everything you are going through, all the anger, shock grief, fear, loneliness etc. So let's do what's right by them and put their needs above our own.
How can we do this?
In no particular order:
- Mediation with your ex and lawyers (Solicitors) if at all possible. Believe me, it makes it easier all round. You need to accept that your marriage is over but your child is still in that relationship with both parents. Fighting particularly in front of the children will only hurt them more.
- Get educated about the laws as they stand in your jurisdiction -about divorce and custody - you need to know your rights and your children's rights.
- Get therapy for yourself - you're helping yourself and your kids.
- Get therapy for the kids - they need to talk about their emotions too. Rainbows is a great organisation that can help.
- Never I repeat Never use your children as bargaining tools you lose 100 % of the time. Do not allow any other family member to use your child in that way either.
- Talk to the schools they need to know what's going on.
- Talk to your children together let them know you love them and that will never change even though you are divorcing. Allow them time to process this information and be available to talk it through again.
- Never make anyone of your children be the messenger between you both. If you can't be civil with one another leave it to the professionals. If this information is about your children then use text or email -short to the point messages about what it is about the child the other needs to know. Leave it at that!
- You are going to be the brunt end of the child's emotions don't take it personally get them help so they can feel everything they are entitled to feel and move on just like you need to do. They need to see it's a new beginning not the end of their life, children can see the end of your relationship as a rejection of them too. This will depend upon age too.
- Don't turn them into your parent, partner or confidential other. That's not their role in your life. They are children and as such need to have a child's life not become a grown-up for you. Get help for yourself from an appropriate source.
- Don't rush them into accepting another partner in your life. In fact, I suggest you don't rush into another relationship until you've had therapy.
- Spend time with your children. It's hard for them to have a relationship with a parent who is not living in the family home anymore. Remember they don't fit into your schedule you fit into theirs.
- Never criticise each other in front of the children, remember they're half of each of you.
- Children worry you need to reassure them, even years later. Children need to know what's going to happen next so let them know about their home, school etc. They need to know what else will change as a result of having two homes
- When your children are with you-you are not babysitting them, you are their parents still, so parent. Make sure both homes have the same rules. Guess what it brings reassurance to the children and it'll make your life easier.
This is by no means a completed list but it may help you get started or move on from where you are.
You might also like to read Divorce and emtional rollercoaster this post is aimed at adults.
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