According to statistics, many people avoid getting divorced when they have kids. They are fearful that the separation will be ugly and cause so many problems for their children that they endure the marriage until the kids are old enough to not be involved. In some ways, these couples may be on to something. Divorce does affect children perhaps more boldly than it does the adults involved. While you may be glad to get away from that significant person in your life, your children will likely not share your feelings. However, staying may not be the best solution either. Divorcing with kids can be done properly, with the children’s best interests in mind – as long as both partners are willing to act like adults, setting aside personal feelings for those of the children.
Splitting Up After Having Children
So do you stay or go? There are a lot of things to consider for couples having problems. For one thing, once you have children – divorcing isn’t as easy as moving one person out of the house. There are also financial ramifications that come into play and a lot of other issues concerning friends and family that you may not have considered. The far-reaching affects of divorce are often not felt right away and can last for years or even for the rest of your life. However, staying for the children’s sake may not be a good idea either. Here’s why?
For one thing, you are miserable. If you think that your children don’t realize it, you are dead wrong. Your children can sense your unhappiness and there is a pretty good chance that your marital stress is taking a toll on your children as well. It is important for kids to grow up amid healthy and happy marriages, so that when it comes their turn to pick a life partner they know what to look for. Staying together for the kids, is really just a cop out. If you will be a happier person divorced, and have the stability of mind to make decisions based on your children, the divorce can alleviate a huge weight off of your children’s shoulders. Plus, it is important for your children to see you happy, and they will have more long lasting connectedness and feelings of love if you allow your children to see you as a happy person. Not a forced happy that has you keeping up appearances which your kids will see right through. But the kind of happy that will make you a better parent.
Another aspect of staying together for the kids is that it robs you of your own life. You and your partner deserve to be truly happy and if separating can create that – it can be the best thing to do.
So how do you make sure that divorcing with kids in the house is followed through in a manner that caters to your children’s emotional needs? The first step is showing your kids that you and your partner, although with irreconcilable differences, still are able to maintain control and communication. You should talk to the kids together as a family and explain what is going on. This way, they will see that the two of you have decided this together. Children will naturally want to blame someone or something for the divorce – but if they see the two of you as a united front and agreeing – then it will be easier for them to accept. You should also allow the kids to vent their anger, and realize that this IS their business as well. The next step is to assure the kids that you will take their desires and wishes into account. Make them feel confident right away that just because you are getting divorced, does not mean that they are. Sure, there will be custody issues – but they do not have to be staged from classic drama shows. As long as you and your spouse are willing to separate your feelings and animosity from one another from how the kids will be raised, things will be easier in the long run. Make sure that you communicate this right from the start. This isn’t to say that the kids should have full say about what happens next, but since your decisions affect their life, they should be allowed to voice their feelings and concerns.
Another way to make divorcing with kids easier for everyone involved – is to refrain from talking about the divorce in front of the kids. This means that you shouldn’t be talking to another adult about the dirty, nitty gritty details when the kids are in earshot. You also shouldn’t make a habit of saying negative things about your ex in front of the children. Sure, you are mad – upset and perhaps resentful. But these feelings have nothing to do with your children. Your children will feel extremely anxious and angry themselves when they hear parents talking negatively about one another. This also makes them feel like they have to choose sides, which is completely unfair to ask of them.
No matter what, divorcing with kids is hard. There are a lot of things to consider. It is probably best for you and your partner to discuss the details in private, perhaps with mediation before you confront the kids with the realities of your situation. This way, you have time to defuse and prepare for their questions and feelings. Once you announce the divorce and begin following through with it – it is time for you and your children to begin healing and rebuilding. Sometimes your kids will need you, and you may not be ‘up to it.’ Realize that they are children and their needs come first. Other times, it will be you who needs to be lifted up. Remember divorce brings with it a lot of change, and as long as you keep your family at the forefront of the process – your kids will get through it just fine.