The joys and rewards children often bring to family life are many. Like most Pennsylvania parents, you're likely very proud of your children and never hesitate to show their latest pictures to friends and family or laud their efforts and achievements at school or on a sports team. When you decided the time had come to tell your kids you were getting divorced, you worried about how they'd take the news.
Perhaps things went better than you'd imagined at first, then days later, you began to notice some of the emotional impact your situation was having on your children. Maybe one child was staying in her room more than usual or another was acting out and becoming very rebellious. There's no secret formula for helping children navigate divorce, unscathed. However, there are many available resources to help them fare as well as possible.
What you say and do matters
As you head to settlement in your divorce, your children will rely on you, more than anyone, to support and encourage them as they adapt to their new lifestyle. The following ideas may be useful as you do your best to help them come out on top:
- It's always best to avoid talking negatively about your spouse when your children are listening, and if they're nearby, you can bet they are listening. You may be angry or frustrated about certain marital issues or even legal problems regarding your future parenting plan or some other matter; however, it's best to keep your negative thoughts private -- or share them with someone other than your kids.
- Cooperation is the name of the game when it comes to showing your children you have their best interests in mind. When they witness both parents making sacrifices and compromising with each other, they're more likely to feel reassured and confident about moving on in life.
- Structure and routine are always important when the goal is to raise emotionally and physically healthy children. Especially when major life changes are happening, such as those associated with divorce, it's crucial to maintain as much of a sense of normalcy as possible for your children's sakes.
- Avoid popular parent competitions and other negative behaviors that often backfire when the plan is to help children cope with divorce. It may seem like letting them go on shopping sprees at the mall or eat all the ice cream they want is a good idea at the time, but more often than not, such actions cause more harm than good.
When your children know you are there for them to lean on when they feel down or need support, they gain hope that, although things will be different, their lives will still be joyful, secure and full of family love. If a particular problem arises that you don't feel capable of handling on your own, you can tap into local resources to provide your children with whatever type of support they need.