Many parents make the mistake of tackling divorce as a relationship issue instead of a family issue. This often leads to excluding children from important decisions. Sometimes, couples become so caught up in the divorce process that children feel they do not receive validation for their concerns or feelings at all.
This can happen to even the best of parents, but there are some things you can do to prevent it. Mayo Clinic weighs in with some advice.
Put children first
Many couples want to get the divorce over and done with, sever ties and create a family without the other spouse. This might prove beneficial for you and your mental health, but it separates children from one parent. Putting children first involves accepting a few inconveniences and uncomfortable moments to keep children happy, healthy and well-adjusted.
Protect children from disagreements
Many children feel relieved when parents disclose the decision to separate or divorce because it means an end to the fighting. Try to keep children away from these scenarios as much as possible. This also includes not speaking poorly of the spouse in hearing distance of the children or trying to discourage them from maintaining a relationship.
Break the news together
Parents who have successfully kept fighting to a minimum or out of earshot of the children may wonder how to break the news. Mayo Clinic suggests doing it together as a family. Sit down with your spouse and the children and explain in simple and honest terms what happens next. Mayo Clinic also recommends reassuring children that they did not play a role in this decision.
Children respond to divorces differently. This varies by age, maturity, relationship with the parents and how much children picked up on things as they occurred. Because of this, treat each child as an individual and prepare to handle a potential mix of relief, anger, sadness, happiness and fear.