Guidelines for Coping With Divorce – Tips for Parents

Unfortunately 50% of all marriages end up in divorce.  When a divorce does occur it is traumatic for all concerned.  Here are a few guidelines for minimizing the trauma for the children involved.  Counseling is often necessary to help children cope.

Ten Tips for Talking to Your Children about Divorce.

The decision to get a divorce is usually an agonizing one. But the thought of telling our children about it can be absolutely terrifying. It’s disheartening to have to be the bearer of such devastating news, and it’s impossible to predict how they will react.

Talking to children about divorce is never easy. But there are some things you can do to make it less stressful for everyone involved. Here are some tips.

1. Talk to your children as soon as possible after you’ve come to a decision. Postponing the talk will just give you more time to dread it, and you may lose the trust of your kids. Make sure that you intend to go through with it, try to make some preliminary living arrangements, and break the news as soon as possible afterward.

2. If possible, both spouses should be present when telling children about divorce. Otherwise, they might feel as though the decision was one-sided or that the absent parent doesn’t care about them. This will also help them understand that you will still be parenting as a team.

3. Choose a time that will not interfere with your children’s normal activities, and a place that is familiar and comfortable. This shows respect for the things that are important to them and ensures that they will feel comfortable asking questions.

4. Tell all of your children at the same time. If you don’t, there will almost certainly be feelings of resentment. Even if they are not close in age, they deserve to hear about it at the same time. You can talk to them separately in more age-appropriate terms later.

5. Younger children are unlikely to understand what divorce means. Explain it in the simplest terms possible. Explain that you and your spouse will no longer be living together, that they will see both of you, and that both parents love them and always will.

6. Avoid arguing with the other parent or laying blame. This is a time to inform your kids about what’s going on, not to decide who’s right and who’s wrong.

7. Do your best to avoid expressing anger or bitterness, but feel free to express sadness. Doing so lets children know that it’s okay for them to be sad.

8. Make it a point to tell your children that it’s not their fault. Young children are especially prone to thinking that they are somehow to blame for divorce, even if they don’t vocalize it. It’s very important to reassure them that it has nothing to do with them.

9. Fill them in on everything that has been decided so far. They need to know where they will be staying, if a parent is moving out, and that their basic needs will be met. Do your best to address these concerns as fully as possible.

10. Encourage your children to ask questions, and answer them truthfully. You don’t have to tell them all of the details about why you are separating, but it is critically important to maintain their trust.

Ten Tips for Talking to Your Ex Effectively

Divorces happen for a multitude of different reasons. But there are some things that many divorces have in common. One of these things is a breakdown of communication between former partners.

Couples who have trouble communicating effectively with one another often end up separating. And even couples who once communicated well might find themselves straining to get through to one another once they’ve split. But when there are children involved, communicating is essential.

Even if you cringe at the thought of talking to your ex, it is in your children’s best interest for you to work together on certain issues. Here are ten tips for talking to your ex without having a meltdown.

1. Remind your ex (and yourself) that communicating with each other and working together is important. Sometimes our emotions take over and we forget how our actions affect our children. If your ex becomes hostile or unreasonable, a gentle and non-confrontational reminder that the children’s welfare is at stake could change his tune.

2. Try to proceed in a businesslike manner. When we’re at work, we must often push our emotions aside when dealing with difficult co-workers, customers or clients. It may be a little more difficult when an ex-partner is involved, but it is certainly possible.

3. Be willing to compromise. When it comes to our children, there are certain things that we won’t bend on, nor should we. But there are also areas in which compromising wouldn’t hurt anyone. Keep an open mind, and things will go much more smoothly.

4. Avoid talking to your ex when you’re stressed about other things. If you try to talk when something else is bothering you, getting along will be much more difficult. While it’s not helpful to keep putting your ex off, there’s rarely any harm in postponing a talk to a better time.

5. Consider setting up a time to talk about matters that involve the children each week, or at least once a month. This will help ensure that both parents are in the loop about important matters, and it will show the children that you are both committed to raising them well.

6. When you’ve set aside time to discuss parenting, avoid discussing other things. If there are other unresolved matters, set up a separate meeting time to discuss them.

7. Make an agenda for each parenting meeting. Write down the topics you wish to discuss, such as behavior, schoolwork and extracurricular activities. This will make the meetings more productive.

8. Choose the right method of communication. If you would rather not meet face to face, you can effectively discuss most issues over the phone. If you prefer not to talk at all, perhaps email would work out better. As long as you’re communicating and not bickering, it makes little difference how you communicate.

9. When in doubt, put things in writing. If your ex tends to forget things (or pretend to forget them), writing a note will help him remember (or keep him accountable). While writing things down doesn’t guarantee them, it can be helpful.

10. Avoid sending messages to the other parent through your children. Kids might forget to pass them on. And more importantly, if there is a disagreement, they might feel partially responsible. It’s much better to deliver all messages yourself.

Why It Is Important to Have the Same Rules at Both Homes

Divorce can be traumatic, not only for the separating partners, but also for their children. Kids who are caught in the middle experience a deluge of emotions, including sadness, anger and confusion. How the parents handle the divorce, however, can make it more or less difficult for them.

A frequent point of contention between divorcing parents is the set of rules that their children are expected to follow. Usually, while married, parents come up with a set of rules to which they can both agree. But in the event of separation, each parent may prefer to change the rules a bit for when the children are with them.

Overall, this is a bad idea. While it is ultimately up to the parent to enforce rules, having two different sets of rules is generally bad for the children. Here are a few reasons why this is so:

  • Having to adjust to a different set of rules each time a child visits the other parent is difficult. They might get confused about which rules apply where, and that could get them in trouble.
  • Children may resent the parent who enforces more restrictive rules. These rules might be in the child’s best interest, but he still feels that he’s being treated unfairly because they do not apply when he is with the other parent. This often leads to conflict between parent and child.
  • A difference in rules can cause added conflict between the parents. Not only does this produce more stress in the adults, it also hurts the children. Even though the parents are separated, seeing them fight is not good for the children.
  • Children need a sense of stability. This stability is lessened when their parents divorce. But being subject to the same rules at both households gives them some semblance of security.

Agreeing on the Rules

When you come to the decision to get a divorce, the first thing that’s usually discussed is who will get the children and how visitation will work. It’s also important to discuss the continuation of rules early on. Parents often assume that the other parent will keep the same rules, but that doesn’t always happen. This is especially true in households where the rules are flexible or not well defined.

For best results, rules should remain the same as when the parents were together. But children who are experiencing a state of transition may need to have their rules revised. For example, a child who is ready to start dating will need rules that weren’t necessary before. In such circumstances, the parents need to discuss the prospective new rules ahead of time and do their best to come to an agreement on them.

Having the same rules at both homes makes things easier for parents and children. It makes for less conflict and greater uniformity. While a divorce is not by nature a pleasant experience, maintaining a consistent set of rules can make it less unpleasant.