How to Protect Your Children in Divorce
Despite their best intentions, divorce is a common reason why people hire family law attorneys in St. George and across America. According to Scientific American, divorce affects about 1.5 million children in America each year. Sadly, children from divorced marriages have a higher risk of developing mental and emotional issues. However, you can take steps to help protect your children from the trauma of divorce.
Through years of experience as one of the top family law firms in St.George, Kirton McConkie attorneys have seen a variety of divorce scenarios and have witnessed the emotional and psychological toll these scenarios can take on our clients and their children. Our attorneys can lessen these burdens and can help you handle them appropriately. We’ve compiled a list of suggestions below to help safeguard your kids during the divorce process.
Get expert help from a divorce lawyer near you. If you're in the greater southern Utah area, contact Kirton McConkie, your family law attorneys in St. George.
Put Your Children First
During a divorce, the children’s needs should come first. You may feel slighted by your soon-to-be ex-partner and want some sort of vengeance or retribution. While those feelings may be justified, following through on those actions could make things worse for your children.
Keeping the divorce civil, cordial, and efficient can reduce the emotional impact the separation has on the children. Long, bitter divorces in which the separating parties vilify each other tend to affect the children involved more harshly.
Avoid talking negatively about your ex in front of your children. Such negativity may confuse a child and possibly lead them to think they are intrinsically flawed. Put your ego aside and keep things civil for the children's sake.
Be Honest with the Kids
Tell your kids what's happening and what they can expect in the future. Children will notice the changes around them whether you tell them or not. Each child's ability to understand what's happening around them will vary and will greatly depend on their state of development. However, almost all children will notice some changes and will pick up on the heavy emotions that usually accompany a divorce.
Attempting to deny the divorce can make a child question their own perception or what you tell them. Experiencing such doubt during heightened emotions can lead to the child experiencing confidence and trust issues.
Explain what is happening to each child in words that are appropriate for their age and degree of maturity. Children usually process and retain information in small chunks rather than one extensive conversation. So, be patient and talk to your kids about the divorce a little bit at a time. Be willing to answer any questions they have openly and honestly.
Reassure Your Children
Repeatedly tell your children that things are going to be okay. The uncertainty and confusion accompanying a divorce can terrify anyone, especially children, because they often haven't developed the emotional and mental maturity to handle the fear of an unknown future.
Children thrive from stability, including emotional stability. Alleviate their fears and try to keep things on an even keel. Explain to them what's happening and what you expect things to be like in the future. Assure them that both parents still love them and are ready to listen and answer their questions.
Some older kids may act like they're okay and understand, but they may be holding in their emotions and confusion to keep the peace or show support. Don't simply ask once and stop. Continually give children opportunities to talk about their feelings and show them you’re willing to answer their questions. Both parents should create a reassuring and stable environment, including trying not to manipulate the child for their affection or undermining the other parent.
Keep your child's daily life as consistent as possible during and after the divorce, such as keeping them enrolled in the same school and involved in the same activities. Maintain the same schedule for eating, sleeping, and other routines.
Divorce will no doubt cause many changes in your child's life. Keeping the rest of the child's life consistent gives them an anchor of stability to lean on as they cope with the changes at home. It can keep them grounded in a stable reality while they adjust to a new life.
Making sudden changes to a child's routine when they're already handling the emotional strain of their parents' separation can leave the child feeling lost, listless, and unimportant. It can cause significant psychological and emotional harm.
If the divorce means making major changes to your child's life, try to make the changes slowly, just one or two at a time, which will allow your child to adapt to the situation without becoming emotionally overwhelmed. The more consistent you can keep your children's routines, the more they will be able to focus on emotionally processing the divorce.
Seek Professional Help
Don't feel like you have to go through the process alone. You will likely have a lot of emotional heavy lifting to do during your divorce. Staying poised for your child will prove challenging at times, but you can get help handling the emotional burden by talking with a family counselor or child psychologist. Through the divorce process, they can offer you and your child guidance and emotional support.
If possible, begin talking with the counselor before the divorce proceedings start to give you the most help possible and provide a consistent, steady voice throughout the process.
Along with seeking the help of mental healthcare professionals, you can also help ensure your divorce case gets settled smoothly by working with qualified legal professionals.
Hire Kirton McConkie, the Experienced Family Law Attorneys in St. George
Experienced family law attorneys at Kirton McConkie have seen the emotional toll long divorces can take on their clients. They know how to work with your ex-spouse's attorney to quickly reach an amicable settlement. Keeping the divorce procedure quick and smooth will limit your child's exposure to negativity between spouses that a trial might expose.