Divorce is never easy for anyone, even when both parties are relatively civil. For families, a divorce involves more than parents just dividing their things and setting up separate households and a placement time schedule. The experience takes a significant emotional toll on both parents and children. After the divorce, kids will need time and support to recover. Here are 5 ways you can help your family heal after divorce.
1. By Modeling Good Parent Behavior
If your kids are old enough to know about the divorce, they are probably dealing with a lot right now. The one thing they don’t need from either parent is to hear them disparage the other. Your kids love both of you, and right now, you and your ex are creating a sense of stability for them by modeling good parent behavior. That means refraining from making negative comments about one another to your children or within their presence. In their eyes, this is a family crisis and, despite the divorce, you are still their family. When they see their parents handling the situation with mutual respect, it conveys a sense of family stability. It can also help make the situation less stressful.
2. By Maintaining Structure and Routine
For children, having a reliable schedule is a key component to feeling secure. With so many changes going on in their lives with the divorce, you want to keep any other areas as steady as possible. If they have a morning and bedtime routine you follow, maintain it no matter in which parent’s home they are staying. You also want to make sure your kids are attending their usual extracurricular activities. The more you do to keep their lives predictable, and on schedule, the less energy they will have to expend on worrying about something else in their world changing.
3. By Taking Care of Yourself
Your divorce has undoubtedly left you with some recovering of your own to do. Your kids are going to need your love and support as they heal after the divorce. You will have far more to give them if you take time to care for yourself whenever possible. Your self-care may be five minutes alone in the morning to have coffee in the yard or taking a short walk with a neighbor after dinner a few days week. You may want to have a friend or loved one take your kids out somewhere fun for an hour or two while you have time to yourself. When you rest and recuperate, you can work on your own healing and have better energy to devote to your kids.
4. By Being Honest and Seeking Help if Needed
Your kids may have questions about the divorce or about you and your ex getting back together. Answer your children honestly when possible while maintaining appropriate boundaries. Additionally, if changes are coming that you can discuss, let them know beforehand. Further, if your kids are struggling with accepting their new circumstances, you may want to consult with a family or child counselor.
5. By Co-Parenting and Keeping them Out of Conflicts
Adjusting to life post-divorce can be a struggle for parents as well as children. However, when parents can work together to build a positive co-parenting dynamic, everyone benefits. That includes agreeing to keep the children out of conflicts. If parents disagree about dividing placement time during the holidays or which pediatrician is best, kids should not be involved in their discussions.
Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law is a trained Wisconsin attorney, Collaborative Attorney, and Mediator. She has extensive experience assisting clients before, during, and after Wisconsin divorce cases and can help you understand your options and find the right resources.