A divorce is one of the most stressful situations a person can experience. Your life is shaken to the grounds and you’re trying to gather up your broken pieces and put yourself together. During this difficult process, it’s not just you and your soon-to-be-ex partner who are experiencing the shock. It’s also your children who are probably finding it difficult to cope with the new situations, afraid of what’s to come next.
To minimize the damage here’s what you can do to protect your children and yourself from the ordeal of divorce.
Don’t argue in front of the children
Of course, it’s very hard to stay calm and not to express your anger and pain but arguing in front of the kids will bring them only harm. As you’re going through a divorce, the two of you will probably have some really nasty arguments and it will be very difficult not to lose your temper in the heat of it. That’s why it’s better not to have the argument in front of the little ones or to interrupt a fight if you notice things are getting out of hand.
If you did have an argument, try to minimize the damage by explaining to your children that what they saw doesn’t mean that you and your partner don’t love them and explain why you were fighting.
It’s always better to find a quiet place to discuss the issues with your spouse, for example, a park or a coffee shop. Knowing that you need to wait until you get to the chosen location will give you and your spouse time to think about what you want to say and the best way to say it.
Children need time with both parents
Of course, if there is no threat to the children’s safety, they need to maintain their relationship with both parents. Many times, one of the spouses leaves the family home during the process of divorce. This can be very troubling and stressful for the kids. That’s why you need to do your best to help your children see both parents on a more or less equal basis. They need their quality time with each of the parents, which will show them that both parents still love them and care for them.
Don’t use your child as a messenger
It’s a horrible burden for a child to be the messenger between parents who are in the middle of a divorce. The child should not know what you want to say to each other and be the one to see the reaction of the other person when they receive the message. It could lead to stress and anxiety in the child, so find another way to communicate if you’re finding it hard to see each other.
Maintain the usual routine
The routine won’t be completely the same if the parents are going through a divorce but there are some instances that can remain the same. Children need routine – it’s what assures them that some things won’t change and that they are safe. A sense of normalcy is the way to keep emotions in balance.
Reduce your stress
You mustn’t neglect yourself during the divorce. Your children will be your biggest concern but your own mental and emotional health is equally important. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be in a better condition to take care of your kids, too. Find a healthy way to channel your sadness, anger, and fears.
Different forms of professional help are a usual thing in developed countries and there’s no shame in that. Australia, for example, is a country where people find it completely normal to have a counselor when they’re experiencing divorce and to get competent legal advice to reduce stress. A good separation lawyer in Sydney and other cities know how to carefully guide them through the divorce timetable and ease their fears.
Another way to reduce stress is to maintain your regular exercise routine. Physical activity releases endorphins, which improve your mood and reduce stress. It’s better to hit the gym than to argue.
Keeping a journal is a very useful method to discover your feelings, your fears, and your regrets. It will allow you to get a better insight into your goals and it will help you let go of the negative emotions and energy. You will be much calmer when you’re with your kids.
Isolating yourself is not the answer. Of course, you’ll need some moments to cry out all that sadness but you need support from other people to make it through. Your friends and parents are your strength, so talk to them when you need advice or you just need someone to listen to you.
Protect yourself financially
A divorce is a costly process in itself, so you don’t need additional expenses that will increase your stress levels.
Don’t rush into unnecessary expenses if you are in the middle of a divorce. A new car or a washing machine can wait until the divorce is done and you identify how big your budget will actually be from now on. It’s different when you need to take care of your bills and expenses on your own, so don’t rush into anything to make yourself feel better.
Also, cancel all jointly-owned credit cards as soon as possible. Meet with your spouse and inform them of what you are about to do. Canceling a credit card only takes 5 minutes but it’s also enough for your spouse to make a huge expense, which would mean that later own it will your credit card debt, too.
The most important thing during a divorce is to pay attention to your and your children’s needs and emotions. Listen to what your body is saying to you and encourage your kids to talk about their feelings with you. Be open to each other – it’s the only way to minimize the damage and carry on as best as you can.