Children often act out when their parents divorce. It is quite common for families to report a major slump in children’s grades following the divorce of their parents. Behavioral issues and changing circles of friends are also common. Some children start presenting symptoms of mental health issues that they did not have previously.
Thankfully, parents can work together to minimize how stressful the divorce process is for their children. What are some of the ways that you can help your children adjust to your changing family circumstances?
Parents often have different approaches to education and discipline. There can be room for each of your unique philosophies while still embracing a shared set of standards and expectations for the children. From the household rules that the children have to follow to your expectations for their school performance, the two of you can agree to maintain consistent standards so that your children know how to behave.
Agree to keep your personal feelings out of parenting matters
While you and your ex may disagree about numerous issues while you co-parent, you can still cooperate with one another. More importantly, you don’t have to expose your children to your emotional responses to every disagreement or parenting decision. If you and your ex can both commit to keeping your personal matters private in front of the children, the whole family will have an easier time moving forward after the divorce.
Recognize that your children require support
Even if you shield them from your conflict and make sure that they know they are not the cause of your divorce, your children will inevitably have intense feelings that they need to work through and process. From guilt to anger and fear over the changes in their circumstances, there will be many feelings that they may need time and space to understand.
Letting your kids know that you are happy to talk to them about their feelings is a good step, but they may still feel uncomfortable discussing their emotions on this topic with you. You may also want to consider looking for a support group for children with parents going through a divorce or a counselor.
If your child has a sport or artistic pursuit that contributes to their self-esteem, you may want to encourage that form of expression until they work through the feelings of the divorce and start to adjust to your family’s new circumstances.
You and your ex will also need to think about future parenting challenges you will need to overcome when you create your parenting plan. From conflict resolution plans to the schedule for birthdays, there are numerous additional inclusions that could smooth the transition to your new co-parenting relationship.
Thinking ahead about your children’s needs will lead to more supportive and functional shared custody arrangements.