How to Prioritize the Mental Health of Your Children During a Divorce
Going through a divorce is never easy, even if the decision is amicable. The CDC estimates that approximately 827,000 divorces occur on an annual basis around the world. If you have children and you are going through a divorce, protecting your child’s mental health is a top priority that should not be ignored. Understanding how to prioritize your child’s mental health during a divorce may feel challenging at first, but it can ensure that your child feels safe, loved, and protected.
- Discuss Your Divorce Away From Your Children
Although a divorce is a major issue that impacts all members of a family, it’s important to discuss the matter away from your children. Do not allow your children to take part in adult conversations when discussing your divorce or separation, and keep these conversations private and between you and your spouse. Allowing your children to get involved in these conversations can make them feel uncomfortable and as if they need to choose sides in order to please one of their parental figures.
- Come to a Custody Agreement on Your Own
If possible, coming to a custody agreement on your own is optimal, even when going through a potentially messy divorce. Discussing potential custody options with your soon-to-be ex-spouse is highly recommended if you’d like to avoid going through the court system. According to Legal Jobs, approximately 90% of all custody arrangements are settled without having to bring the case to court in front of a judge. Going to court over your child only puts more pressure and stress on your child and may even exasperate feelings of guilt, so it’s best to avoid it at all costs.
- Don’t Keep Your Children From Your Ex-Spouse
Visitation abuse is not uncommon in divorces, and it, unfortunately, impacts children more than the adults who are separated. Visitation abuse is when one individual in a party refuses to allow visitation to their children even after a court order has been put in place. Ignoring a court order will not only cause confusion and emotional grief when it comes to your children, but it can also result in legal ramifications if you are ignoring a judge’s official ruling. Outside of cases where a parent poses a significant risk to the child, it’s important for children’s development that they have relationships with both of their parents.
- Spend Time With Your Children Individually
Another important aspect to keep in mind when going through a divorce is that your children are also experiencing emotions and reactions to the situation. Even if your children pretend that they are unbothered by the separation, it’s unlikely that they are entirely unaffected. Spend time with your children on an individual basis. Get to know more about how they are feeling and whether or not they’re in need of additional emotional support. Spending time with your children can also provide valuable insight into whether or not they may benefit from additional therapy sessions or counseling.
- Explore New Hobbies and Activities With Your Children
Whenever you get the opportunity, take time to explore new hobbies and activities with your children by your side. This is especially important when a couple is going through a divorce. Taking time away from divorce discussions and legal talk can help you to regain focus on what is most important – your children and their happiness.
Being honest and upfront with your children is also essential when going through a divorce. Hiding divorce or separation can ultimately just cause unnecessary confusion, anger, and sadness in your children at any age.
Dealing with a divorce can be traumatic and extremely overwhelming, especially when children are involved. Knowing how to help your child protect their own mental health is extremely important for any parent who is currently experiencing a separation. With the right resources and mindset, you and your ex-spouse can work together to aid your children through this difficult process.