You probably remember exactly where you were, perhaps even what time of day it was, when you told your children you were getting divorced. If you have several children of various age ranges, their reactions may have varied. Perhaps you have a quiet child who immediately became even more introverted, or an assertive child who gave personal opinions about your decision. Your kids may have shed tears or expressed anger or worry as well. After all, they love both parents, and the unknown can be quite scary at times.
So many children in Kentucky and throughout the nation have been in similar circumstances. The good part about that is that many studies have been done to assess children's needs and how to help them navigate the divorce process.
Things to keep in mind as you and your children move past divorce
As a parent, you know children go through different developmental stages in life. You may have a foot in more than one door so-to-speak when it comes to which stage in life your children are in -- perhaps you have a toddler, a pre-teen and a couple teenagers in your house. The following list provides ideas and information that may help you keep divorce stress to a minimum concerning your kids:
- If you have a toddler and you are going to be the primary caregiver, your child may suffer anxiety each time he or she has to separate from you. This may even occur when your former spouse arrives to pick up him or her for visits. It's crucial to remember that your child is closely watching you and your reaction to every situation. If you stay calm and keep a positive attitude, chances increase for smooth transitions.
- Most children thrive on routine and structure. As your children come to terms with your divorce, normalcy may be a key factor to their success. Although the court may mandate visitation with the other parent, it's typically a good idea if very young children do not spend a lot of time away from their primary caregiver.
- Any child of any age who is acting aggressively toward others may be exhibiting such behavior out of divorce-related stress. By reassuring your child that your divorce is not his or her fault and by letting him or her know you are there for support, you may be able to nip such problems in the bud.
- Loyalty conflicts are not uncommon for children of divorce, especially those in their teenage years. It's never a good idea to degrade or speak negatively about your former spouse in front of your kids.
Adolescence is generally a challenging time in a young person's life. If your son or daughter is going through adolescence when you divorce, you may need to provide a bit of extra love and attention to help them through the rough spots.
Legal help available
If your children's other parent is willing to cooperate and compromise as needed, things may wind up going smoother than you thought they would. On the other hand, they could be worse as well, especially if your spouse has total disregard for an existing court order or otherwise acts to impede your parenting plan or ability to be with your children.
Courts often provide information and resources to help parents meet the needs of their children during divorce proceedings. Many Kentucky parents also seek assistance from experienced family law attorneys in such circumstances.