As a Pennsylvania parent, you understand that your children depend on you, not only for their temporal needs but to help promote and support their overall well-being as well. When you decided to divorce, you likely worried about the potential negative impact it could have on your kids. Many other parents have felt this way in similar situations. Every child is unique; therefore, no two kids will react the exact same way when they learn their parents are planning to divorce.
Most children, however, can adapt and fare as well as possible if they feel reassured of their parents' love, and can tap into available support resources as needed. As their parent, you know what's best for them, and you can help protect their best interests when proceedings begin to determine child-related aspects of your settlement.
Ways to help your kids when you divorce
Several ideas for helping your children adapt to divorce involve not doing certain things. The following list shows situations you'll want to avoid if you are trying to help your kids move toward a new and happy future:
- Your children already know you and their other parent disagree about certain issues; otherwise, you wouldn't be getting divorced. However, it's always best for children if parents keep their disputes and divorce-related disagreements to themselves. Your kids will fare best if they don't see you and your former spouse argue all the time.
- It's also wise to avoid complaining about your former spouse to your children. Children can lean on parents for support, but parents should lean on other adults, not their kids. If you feel a need to vent, find a close friend or confidant who will listen, and leave your kids out of it.
- Steer clear of too much change and clutter in your children's daily lives as your divorce proceedings unfold. In fact, the more routine and structure you can maintain, the better. Kids already have a major adjustment period in learning to live with one parent instead of two. You can help keep stress to a minimum by avoiding disruption to their daily routine as much as possible.
If you haven't yet told your children of your plans to divorce, that might be the best place to start showing your support. Rather than blurting out the information in passing, it may help to try to arrange a discussion around a nice family meal or quiet gathering at home. Also, allowing the children time to ask questions and share their feelings lets them know you are there to listen and help them in any way you can.
Faith leaders in your community, licensed counselors and family support groups can help you and your children come to terms with the various emotions you may experience during divorce.
If legal issues arise, support is also available to help you rectify problem situations before they get out of hand.