Deciding to get a divorce when you have young children can be difficult. You may be a stay-at-home parent who cares for them every day or be a parent who works hard to provide for your family.
If you and your spouse aren’t getting along and have decided that being apart is best, then a divorce may be the option you’re considering. You may be worried about how your young children will react, but the good news is that there are some simple tips you can use to help them adjust to the process of a divorce and their parents living apart.
Divorcing with young children: Understand grief and emotions
The first thing to remember is that young children will grieve and have emotional responses. They may be scared, frustrated or angry. At younger ages, your children may not know how to express those emotions appropriately, either.
That’s where good parenting comes in. You should first sit down with your spouse and children together. In an age-appropriate manner, tell your children that mom and dad will be living separately. Explain where they will live and what kind of custody schedule they’ll follow. Giving a bare-bones summary of what your children will experience may help prevent anxiety over the changes.
Next, remember to talk to your children about how they feel. It may be helpful to have them draw pictures, too, if they’re too young to voice opinions well. Listen to how they’re feeling, and address their concerns. It’s totally normal for children to be fearful of changes or to be worried that their parents don’t love them. It’s your job to reaffirm that the divorce is not their fault and that you will always be there for them when they need you.
Finally, once your children understand what’s happening, try to involve them in some of the process in a positive way. For example, help them pick out the school bag that will be at dad’s house or the new furniture going into a bedroom at mom’s home. Positivity will make a difference in how resilient the children are over time and how they adjust to living in two homes.