Divorce is hard. It’s hard on the spouses and it’d hard on children – no matter what their age. But, divorce provides teachable moments and concepts that you can reinforce. Your children can learn lessons that will make them stronger.
1. You can Like or Love Someone without Being in Love. It may be difficult for your children to understand how you and your ex can be friendly (and, hopefully, you are — at least in front of them) and not stay married. Explain to children that you can still care about someone without being in love. It’s a distinction that will help you children understand their future relationship as the date and become adults.
2. Happiness is Worth Achieving. Help your children understand that everyone deserves happiness – and happiness is worth seeking out. Let them know that if a situation makes them less than happy and they can’t change it, they should leave it. Teach them not to settle for less but take the necessary steps – including leaving a situation that makes them unhappy – to be happy.
3. You are Strong. Reinforce the resilience of your children. Acknowledge that they are going through a tough time. Tell them that they are being strong. Let them know that life has difficult times, but they will always make it through to the other side.
4. Life means Change. We all have had our ups and downs – our left turns and our right turns. Your children will experience all of this, too. Life isn’t a straight line. There are twists and turns. We start out in one direction and end up going down another path. Let your children know that you and your spouse didn’t get married to get divorced, but things change. Let them know that when change comes you do the best you can to handle it and find happiness again. Help them to focus on the positive aspects of change – things like both you and your ex will be happier or the children will have a calmer home life.
5. Help them Learn Respect. Treat your soon-to-be-ex with respect and ask him or her to do the same. Let your children know that even when you are not getting along and have a dispute that you can still show respect. Like all of us, your children will deal with disagreements and differences with the others. Your actions can teach them to handle these situations while still respecting all involved.
It’s hard to be calm and kind during a divorce, but it is well worth the effort. One big help is an experienced divorce lawyer. Letting your attorney represent you and work out fair and equitable financial and child custody issues will free you to help your children get through the divorce. With less stress, you can help your children learn some important life lessons.