Open Communication: Helping Children Through Divorce

The litigated divorce process can cause a great deal of stress for parents, family, friends, and especially for children. When parents begin a divorce in litigation, they are unintentionally engaging in a lengthy process that often becomes emotionally exhausting for their children. Regardless of how spouses may feel about each other, the litigation process lends itself to conflict. But you do not have to fight ⸺ you can choose divorce mediation. In mediation, you will be able to work together to develop a parenting plan that best meets the unique needs of your children.

open communication

While every situation is unique, simple practices can help reduce stress for children during divorce. Parents can begin by choosing divorce mediation, instead of engaging in a court battle. In mediation, spouses can reach mutually-beneficial agreements which reduces their level of conflict, and in turn, reduces stress for their kids.

Communication is Key

When you create an environment of open and honest communication with your children, they feel safe and supported. You can encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about your divorce. Whether they have positive or negative thoughts to share, let them know that their feelings are valid.

It is important that divorcing parents make time to check in with their kids to see where they are emotionally. It may be very difficult to hear your child express sadness, anger or confusion, but remembering that all children need e to be heard and understood.

Be prepared to answer tough questions and address any concerns that the children may have about the divorce process and the future. This open line of communication should be ongoing throughout the divorce process and after it is finalized. As time goes on and children grow, it is possible that they will continue to ask questions about the divorce. When parents continue answering questions to the best of their ability and let the children know that their voice matters, children are more easily able to adapt and adjust. Parents should check in with one another frequently to ensure that they are providing consistent explanations.

Keep Children Away from Conflict

At times, it may seem nearly impossible to shield your children from the arguments and tension related to divorce. Decades of research confirms that children’s exposure to arguments, high conflict, and negative comments made by one parent about the other can directly impact children’s long-term emotional and psychological health. Venting about your divorce and any negative commentary about your spouse in the presence of children can cause children to feel they need to choose sides. This typically results in children feeling unstable, afraid, and angry. Long-term problems with self-esteem and anxiety are also possible. While it is important to keep parental conflict away from children, it is also important to be open about certain realities, giving consideration to the children’s ages and emotional development. It is important for parents to take their children’s questions seriously and do their best to provide simple and honest answers.

Learn to Co-Parent

In Parenting mediation, former spouses can come to parenting agreements that consider what is best for everyone in the family. These agreements help lay the groundwork for a supportive and successful co-parenting relationship. Mediation allows parents to maintain control over how their children will be living during the divorce and after the case has been settled, rather than a judge who would make these decisions in litigation. The best way for parents to ensure that their children know they are safe, secure and loved by everyone in their family is for parents to do their best to protect kids from the harm of conflict and to convey positive messages about their co-parent to their kids.

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