Although it is easy to recognize the stress and heartache of adults who are dealing with separation or divorce, children are sometimes left out of the equation and discussion for emotional healing. The legal process of fighting for custody or child support, with the help of family attorneys like Cordell & Cordell, often entangles children who don’t understand what is going on or why they can’t stay in their home. If you have an attorney that is able to minimize the exposure of your children to the messy details of a divorce, you are one step ahead of the game of dealing with the emotional trauma your child may experience. Relying on legal counsel from a firm like Cordell and Cordell company will make it easier for you to navigate the divorce process, but you will still need to proactively address the emotional well-being of any kids that are involved. There are several important ways to accomplish this.
Acknowledge the Feelings
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is isolating your feelings from your child. The hurt, anger, loss, and sadness that you are dealing with isn’t too far from what your child may be feeling. By talking about feelings, you allow your child to feel safe in sharing about theirs. Openly communicating is one way to dissipate the guilt that parents tend to experience when going through marital conflict or divorce, and asking your child about their emotions and reaffirming how much they are loved and not at fault is important. You can open up conversations by sharing how you cope with unpleasant feelings like sadness or fear, and draw them into talking about what they feel or do whenever they face a similar emotion.
It is hard for anyone to accept change, but it is very difficult for children to thrive in an environment that is full of unexpected changes or that is unstable. Even though your kids may appear resilient, psychologists are finding that many of the anxiety disorders diagnosed in children and later on in adult have roots in the formative years of home life. Keep your child informed of what is going to transpire or layout the steps of what will be happening to provide predictability. This can lessen feelings of uncertainty and minimize the fear of what comes next.
Children handle their emotions much differently than adults and often, outbursts of anger can be the sign that emotional turmoil is going on. Divorce and separation can anger your child, causing them to blame a specific parent for the upsetting situation or even blame themselves. Don’t ever try to defend yourself to your child; you need to validate what they are experiencing. Allow them to express their anger in a healthy way, but then work through the situation with them. This might mean verbal affirmations or demonstrations of affection.
Minimize the Excuses
Children shouldn’t be caught up in the reasons for your divorce, and rationalizing or sharing the details of the proceeding will only further hurt your child. You should never poison their mind against the other parent or individual and place the blame on someone else. You don’t need to reveal any information at all. The whys of your divorce aren’t important when it comes to the kids. Take your child’s age and maturity into consideration when you are talking about the situation, but always try to refrain from sharing any inappropriate information about your former spouse or partner.
Going through a divorce is an emotionally challenging time period, and any kids involved in the process will experience a variety of emotions. Paying special attention to the needs of your children is one way to restore their emotional health when all is said and done.