Divorce is never easy, especially for children. Too often, the kids are caught in the middle in a vicious tug-of-war between their parents. The most important thing you can remember during this time is that your children love both of you. They want to be with both of you. Any bickering between you only serves to make your children feel like they are being torn in two. Here are some tips to help you deal with this difficult time so your children can have a healthy transition.
Missing Your Kids
It’s normal and natural to miss your kids when they’re gone for the weekend or the week. It’s great to tell them that you missed them and ask how their time was. However, you don’t want to do anything to encourage them to skip a visit to your ex’s house. You will have to accept that the kids need their time with both of their parents, and you should encourage that. You will want to avoid making them feel guilty about going. Find ways to pass the time when they’re gone. Start a new hobby, or just take advantage of the empty house to get some cleaning and organizing done. It will help you pass the time, and your children will love coming home to a parent who is positive and in a great mood.
The Children Are Not Your Sounding Board
Your children are your dependents. They look to you for support; they count on you to be there for them. However, they are not your support system or a sounding board. That is what you have friends for. Do not, under any circumstances, confide in your children about the events that led up to the divorce. Unless there is a clear and present danger to your children, they do not need to know about the problems that you have with your ex-spouse. Those problems are between adults and the children do not need to be involved.
Resist the temptation to burden your children with the information by developing a strong support network of friends and family. Find a good therapist and pour your heart out to them. But remember that your ex-husband or wife is part of your child. When you complain about that person, your child cannot help but internalize it and feel like they are the ones who are horrible. Spare your child the misery by not complaining about the other parent in front of them.
It can be hard to communicate with your spouse, especially if the divorce was bitter or occurred under extreme circumstances. It becomes harder when the other spouse is not following the same rules you are regarding complaining to the kids. If necessary, work with the courts. They can assign neutral drop-off areas for when the kids are visiting the other parent. The courts also have liaisons that can help with communication issues. Do not use your children to send messages back and forth. You have e-mail, text messaging and the assistance of the courts for that. Let the kids enjoy their time with each of you and leave them out of the politics.
Accept That the Households Will Run Differently
This is especially important for blended families where step-children are thrust together under the same roof and have to learn how to get along. Explain to the kids that things will be a little different now, and that’s okay. Explain to them that things will be a little different at the other parents’ homes, and that is also okay. Simply knowing what to expect can help kids adjust and cope.
There are countless books written on this subject and therapists who dedicate their lives to this issue. When you are dealing with a divorce it is important that you find a way to make it work for the children. This isn’t about your misery or the other person’s transgressions; this is about your children. You want them to feel loved, safe and happy. Over time, you will get into a good schedule and the time apart from your kids will become easier. In the meantime, work on developing the support system you need and concentrate on being nice to the ex, especially when the kids are around.