After years of trying to make your relationship work, you’ve finally decided that it’s best if you part ways. Many of our clients explain that one of the main reasons they stuck with their marriage for so long is because they are worried about how divorce will affect their kids. While it’s true that the change and general upheaval will be upsetting and complicated at first, research shows that when done right, it does not necessarily have a long-term negative impact on the your children. In order to help make the transition as calm and seamless as possible, many courts throughout the country now mandate that divorcing parents take co-parenting classes to learn how to best help their kids through this difficult time.
The problem for many parents is that they already have a huge laundry list of things to take care of, and they express that getting to a weekly parenting class will just topple the cart. The good news is that quality online programs are available specifically to help busy parents fulfill this requirement. In most jurisdictions across the country, the judge can allow an online co-parenting program rather than making the parents find babysitters, leave work early or find transportation to get across town to a traditional classroom. If this sounds like your situation, it’s worth taking the time to ask the judge or social worker involved in your case if you can take advantage of this private and convenient way of learning.
Being able to remain at home with your kids to learn these new skills will reduce your overall stress while teaching you effective communication, listening and conflict resolution skills. This is a time when the kid’s needs should come first and parenting classes accentuate the importance of being empathetic towards your children’s needs and struggles at this time. The way you act and react to the situation will set the tone for how well your children come through this.
To further help reduce the stress level for your kids during divorce and better face this emotional challenge, parents need to immediately reassure them that the divorce is not their fault. There is nothing they could do differently to make you stay together. Both parents should be present to tell the kids together and leave plenty of time for discussion and emotional responses that might ensue. Sometimes the reaction doesn’t happen right away so be sure to watch their behavior closely in the following weeks to look for increased anxiety, sleep issues, depression or just overall sadness. Make a point of having discussions related to the logistics of the divorce outside of ear shot and most importantly don’t fight in front of the kids! If you can’t have a civil discussion then look for outside support from a mediator or attorney to help you work out the co-parenting plan. It’s healthy to stay away from any new relationships during this time until things have settled down and your kids are more fully adjusted.
Finally, parents know that this can be an extremely anxiety-provoking time for the kids, so it’s not the time to be making any unnecessary changes. Don’t start redecorating the house the way you’ve always wanted it or completely change your look. The kids need you and their surroundings to remain as routine and stable as possible. It also helps if you can put duplicates of the items they love over at the new second home so they feel comfortable in both places. Following all these suggestions will help lower your child’s stress and anxiety and will pay off in the long run.