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How to Make Divorce Easier for Children

Next Page Mediation March 29, 2024

Divorce is known for being a tumultuous period — not just for the couples involved, but for the divorcee's children as well. As a divorce mediator at Next Page Mediation, I've witnessed first-hand how the upheaval of a family structure can deeply affect children.  

I've also experienced the cost of divorce on a personal level. I witnessed my own parents go through a protracted divorce litigation that was emotionally devastating for our family. Now, as a professional, I'm passionate about educating couples on the options available to them and helping them make informed decisions that will minimize any potential negative impacts on their children. 

Open and Honest Communication

One of the most crucial steps parents can take is to maintain an open line of communication with their children about the divorce. It's important to explain the situation in an age-appropriate manner, reassuring them that you both will continue to love and support them, despite the changes that are to come.  

My best tip in this regard is to have both parents sit down with the child together and explain the decision to divorce. Avoid blaming each other in these conversations, as this can create confusion and distress during an already difficult conversation. Approaching it this way will show a united front and reinforce that you and your ex are going to continue working together to benefit your child's best interests. 

Maintain Routine and Stability

Children thrive on routine and the assurance that certain elements of their lives remain stable. To the best of your ability, try to maintain their daily routines, including school, extracurricular activities, and time with friends. This also extends to maintaining consistent rules and discipline across both households. 

But this does not mean that you must keep everything exactly the same. As that could instill a false sense of security that things will go back to normal. Change is inevitable, but stability and consistency can help children cope with the changes in a healthier way. 

Encourage Expression of Feelings

It's natural for children to have a wide range of feelings about divorce. Providing a safe space for emotional expression is crucial for their mental well-being. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings, and assure them that it's okay to feel upset or confused. This could be through conversation, art, or role-playing.  

Some parents may naturally default to shutting down their own emotions in an effort to appear strong for their children. However, it's important to show your child that you're also human and experiencing a range of emotions during this time. This can help them feel less alone in their own feelings. 

Maintain a United Parenting Front

Despite the differences that led to the divorce, presenting a united parenting front is essential for the children's adjustment.  

This means agreeing on key parenting decisions, maintaining as much consistency as possible across households, and supporting one another's relationship with your children. One key way to do this is to demonstrate respect to each other in the presence of your children, as this models healthy coping mechanisms for any emotional conflicts they're currently dealing with.  

The best thing about this tip is that you're modeling behavior that will be beneficial for your children now and in their future relationships. In other words, you're demonstrating that while not every romantic relationship is destined to work out, it's still possible to maintain healthy, amicable relationships with the people who hold important roles in our lives. 

Prioritize Your Children's Needs

It's easy to get caught up in the complexities and emotional turmoil of divorce. However, it's paramount to always keep the children's needs at the forefront of decision-making processes. This means making decisions that prioritize their well-being and emotional health, even if it requires compromise and flexibility from both parents.  

Consistently prioritizing your children's needs during a divorce involves more than just ensuring their day-to-day life remains stable; it extends to protecting their emotional and psychological well-being. This requires a conscientious effort to understand their fears, anxieties, and concerns and addressing them with empathy.  

Include your children in discussions about changes that may directly affect them, such as moving to a new house or changes in their school routine, ensuring they feel heard and valued in the process.  

By making these concerted efforts, parents can significantly mitigate the impact of divorce on their children, laying a foundation for them to emerge resilient and emotionally healthy. 

Seek Professional Support

Navigating the emotional landscape of divorce can be challenging for children and parents alike. It may be beneficial to seek professional support from a child psychologist or family therapist. These professionals can provide children with coping strategies and help parents learn how to support their children through this transition.  

Additionally, it may be helpful for parents to seek their own individual therapy to process their emotions and learn healthy coping mechanisms. A therapist who specializes in family or domestic issues can provide guidance on how to work through the unique emotional strains of co-parenting and minimize conflict for the sake of the children. 

Consider Mediation

Unlike the adversarial nature of court litigation, mediation fosters a collaborative environment. This allows parents to work together constructively to reach agreements that honor the best interests of their children.  

Mediators are trained to facilitate discussions in a way that minimizes conflict and promotes understanding between parties. This aspect of mediation is critical, as it helps parents model positive communication skills and conflict resolution strategies for their children. By observing their parents working through disputes calmly and respectfully, children can learn valuable life skills that will serve them well beyond the context of the divorce.  

Mediation sessions are also confidential and private, providing a safe space for both parents to openly discuss their concerns and wishes for their children’s future without the fear of public scrutiny. This confidentiality encourages more honest and productive conversations, which can lead to more effective parenting plans.  

Additionally, mediation is often less time-consuming and costly than going to court, which can help reduce the overall stress and financial strain on the family during an already challenging time. By choosing divorce mediation, parents demonstrate to their children that they can make cooperative decisions, even in difficult circumstances, prioritizing their children's emotional security and stability above all. 

Here to Help You Nurture Your Child's Resilience

Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging experience, but it also offers an opportunity to teach children about resilience. By approaching the situation with empathy, support, and understanding, parents can help their children emerge from this experience with strength and resilience. 

At Next Page Mediation, my aim is to support families through the complexities of divorce with compassion and professionalism.  

Based in northeastern Ohio, we serve a broad area including Akron, Canton, Shaker Heights, Wooster, Youngstown, Mansfield, and even Seattle and Washington State. Our focus is not just on resolving conflicts, but also on fostering a positive future for all involved, especially the children. 

If you're navigating through a divorce and are concerned about the impact on your children, contact me today.