Sadly, divorce is always a possibility in any marriage and all too often the children take the brunt. How we handle divorce will have the greatest impact on our children’s future.
You want them to get through this traumatic time with the least possible damage.
You want them to grow up not feeling resentful or torn between the two of you.
You want them to look back on this time in their lives and feel proud at the way you handled yourself.
And this applies equally to mothers and fathers.
Your children’s well being comes first
First and foremost, you need to be a bigger person that those issues surrounding your divorce. You need to love your children more than you might resent or dislike your ex husband or wife. . You need to let go of grudges and hurt. If you are divorced with children, you will be in touch with your ex spouse for a very long time. So like any other relationship, this will one will need to be worked on too.
A child's list of wants and needs from their parents
The University of Missouri came up with a child’s “list of wants and needs from mom and dad” at the time of divorce, which is well worth quoting here:
“I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write letters, make phone calls, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. Please support me and the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
Please communicate directly with my other parent so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth.
When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don’t say anything at all. When you say mean, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side
Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life. I count on my mom and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problem
Be the bigger person
Whatever happens at the end of a marriage, you cannot control someone else but you can control yourself. So be the bigger person and show your children how to do the right thing. Accept the fact that your ex spouse is who they are and figure out the most effective ways to deal with that fact – warts and all!
Thank them when they do what’s right and apologize if you say something hurtful or don’t honor an agreement. Everyone wants to feel respected. It goes against how we may be feeling but this has to do with creating a peaceful environment for your children. Walk away when you become emotional because you are only heading for trouble. When you have returned to a state of equilibrium then, and only then, decide on the best way to handle the situation. It will be clearer.
Your children's behavior could well deteriorate
Of course your children will be shocked and even unable to believe what has happened. They may well become very angry and direct this anger at one or both parents. And yes, their behavior could well deteriorate. They need time to come to terms with a divorce whatever their age. It could take a year or two. There may well be financial and other adjustments to their lifestyle which make it even more difficult. A calm, structured routine will always help.
If some time has passed and you are concerned about your children and their adjustment, you should seek advice from a professional counselor. And don’t forget that parents also need to recover from this traumatic experience.