Is there ever an easy way to get through a divorce when you have kids? Separation and Divorce can be tough on kids. But you can help them adjust in a positive way with these simple tips.
How to be a Good Mom While helping your kids cope with divorce
So you decided to get a divorce. While every situation is different, kids going through a divorce is often more harmful on them than it is to you.
It could be an amicable split and you are looking to move on. Or maybe it was a difficult separation filled with hate and anger or sadness. No matter what the circumstance, kids have a hard time understanding why their parents are splitting up.
While your life may be better off, your kids won’t understand that. They won’t care about how badly their dad treated you. They won’t know anything about the financial trouble your Ex put you in. And they definitely won’t understand what it means to “fall out of love”.
To most kids, parents are just meant to be together. They don’t know why or how, it’s just the way its supposed to be. So when a family decides to split up, it can shake a kid’s whole life.
How can I get a divorce without hurting my kids?
My daughter was an infant when I divorced her dad. I thought I got off easy. She was too young to understand and really, she never knew what life was like when her dad and I were together. So I didn’t think I had to deal with a lot of issues that other divorcing families had to.
I was WAY wrong.
Growing up, she knew most moms and dads were together and questioned why we weren’t. She got frustrated going between two houses and even said she wished we all lived together so she could have mom and dad at the same time. And this was YEARS after the divorce.
It was then that I knew, no matter what the age or the circumstance, kids need help coping with divorce. And I had to step up and help her through it, even though I had moved on years ago.
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How to be there for your kids through a divorce
Some divorces call for a celebration. You finally made the choice to move on with your life and you are excited to see where the future takes you. You’re tired of fighting or feeling sad and you can’t wait to start your new life, where the possibilities are endless!
A lot of divorces are the exact opposite. There can be a lot of pain, a lot of sadness, and hurt feelings. Maybe there was cheating, or abuse, or neglect, or financial ruin. Or maybe you didn’t even want the divorce and now you’re forced into this new life unexpectantly.
One thing to always remember is that kids learn from you by watching the way you handle things. So it’s important to contain the excitement for a new life. And put away the hurt and anger from a bad split.
Create an environment where both you and your kids thrive, not just survive.
Doing that is not as hard as you think! There are several ways you can move on with your life while supporting your kids through one of the toughest transitions in theirs.
Keep Reading: How to Be a Better Parent, Parenting Skills That Work
Tips for helping your kids through a divorce
Chances are you stuck around for a lot longer then you should have, for the sake of the kids. But they will never understand this either. What they WILL understand is what mom did to help them through this tough time…
1 – Don’t try to control your Ex
Splitting up means moving on. And it’s hard to move on if you are still trying to act like you are in a relationship with the other person. Which means giving up control. You need to remind yourself constantly that you cannot control where they move, how often they see the kids, or who they start hanging out with.
This can often be really hard on moms as we are the ones who took care of everything. We signed every school form and made every dinner. We know exactly when the kids brushed their teeth or last took a bath. You may not like how late dad lets them stay up, or how often he buys them McDonald’s. But the very best thing you can do for your kids is to take care of them when they are with you and let dad do the same.
2 – Encourage a relationship with dad
Some dads are super present and want split custody. And some dads are having fun with their new life and can’t be bothered with the kids. In any case, you should always encourage your child to have a relationship with their dad.
Shouldn’t it be dads responsibility to pursue that? Well, yes, it should. But if it’s not happening, it’s your child who gets hurt from it. Sometimes you can’t force these things to happen, but you know you have to at least try. Your kids will thank you for it one day.
Or maybe dad did something bad and the kids are mad at him and they don’t want a relationship with him? Try to encourage them to give him a chance. Explain to your kids that he let you down, not them. He’s still their dad and they will do much better in the long run with him in their lives.
3 – Keep arguments away from kids
Even though this is probably the most obvious tip, it’s one worth mentioning a thousand times. Splitting up a family is devastating for a child. Having to continue hearing their parents fight and argue will make things worse.
And chances are, you’re fighting over something having to do with the kids. Which is going to make them feel like they are the problem. Whether it’s personal or involved the kids… keep it away from them!
I always recommend doing the majority of your corresponding by email. The kids won’t see or hear any of it. You’ll have a nice paper trail to refer back to if you need to. And emails tend to be a lot less messy then texts or phone calls. Emails take time and require thought whereas texts and phone calls can cause a lot of damage with people firing off comments left and right.
4 – Don’t dismiss kids questions and feelings
Even if the divorce is extremely painful for you, you have to be open and willing to answer any questions children might have. You don’t need to go in depth about all the messy details, but you do need to listen to them and acknowledge their feelings.
Kids need you to be their safe zone. They need to feel like they can come to you with anything. If you ever talk to grown children of divorce, one of the things they have a hard time getting over is when they felt like their parent shut them out. Don’t make your kids turn to someone else for answers. Be there for them no matter what they need to verbalize.
5 – Go ahead and break down, just do it in private
It can be hard keeping it together for your kid’s sake. While sometimes we hold the really bad stuff in for our kid’s sake, it’s also crucial for us to be able to let it out of our systems too.
So when the kids are asleep, or at dads house, take time to let it all out. Cry, scream, curse… Call a friend and vent. Let it all out! Just not around the kids.
If you don’t take time to let it out, it will come out when you aren’t ready. Like on a night your kids are frustrating you and you are just getting overwhelmed and stressed out. It will all come out at some point, so do it when you know the kids are not around.
6 – Get your life organized
One of the best things you can do for your kids during a divorce is to keep your (and their) life moving in the right direction. Take time to figure out your new finances, where you are going to live, what your new goals are, etc. Get everything in your life organized so the kids can see you moving on in a healthy way. And that splitting up and moving on isn’t always a life-destroying situation.
Going from a double income to a single income can be really tough and a shock to a lot of people. Adjusting to life as a single person can be just as tough if you are not used to doing daily tasks like grocery shopping, paying bills, or getting the oil changed. Sit down and take time to figure all these things out.
7 – Start a new life with new traditions
Making everything an easy transition for our kids is always our goal. But trying to keep things the exact same can cause confusion too. Keep some things the way they used to be. But try to find new traditions you and your kids can celebrate together.
By starting new things, you’re showing your kids that they can still have a fun, happy life even if they have to give up some of the things they were used to. Start new traditions for them to look forward to and they just might like this new life as much as you will.
8 – Keep yourself healthy
You know what they say, you can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself first. Keep yourself as physically and as mentally healthy as you can. This may mean eating healthier or starting a new workout routine. Or maybe start seeing a therapist… whatever you need to feel good inside.
Don’t forget easy ways to practice self-care. Self-care is a must for any mom… but even more so when you have a lot of stress going on. And just think… you can read a book or take a bath without anyone else telling you what to do! Learn to enjoy your new alone time!
Help Your kids adjust to life after divorce
Help support your kids through a divorce with some books of their own. I also recommend getting them a journal where they can write down their feelings if they don’t want to always talk about them. And let them pick out a cool bag or new toy that they can take back and forth to both houses.
Show them this new life they have is nothing to be scared about… and you both can move on to exciting and happier times!
Before you go!
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