Going through a divorce can be very stressful for all parties involved, including the children. Many times parents forget that this process is just as hard, if not harder, on their children then it is them. Child custody is often the hardest part of your divorce because it involves the wellbeing and happiness of your children, who usually don’t understand the complexity of divorce, and are more deeply affected by the breaking apart of their family.
One of the things that is important for parents who are going through a divorce is to sit down and talk to their children. Even if this conversation is difficult, it is necessarty. If the children are old enough, you should also consider seeking their opinions on where they are going to live and how they will spend time with the other parent. Since your child is going to be going through some pretty significant changes in their life as a result of divorce, they need to be adequately prepared for them.
Steps to Talk to Your Child About Child Custody
Step 1 – Know How to Talk to Your Child
Remember to speak to your child with appropriate language that they can understand. Your child might not even know what the word “custody” means, so you may need to use different phrases to explain this in terms they understand. You also should avoid sharing more information than they need. Instead, just give them the basic facts that are going to directly affect them.
Step 2 – Avoid Saying Bad Things About the Other Parent
One of the biggest mistakes (and one that is one of the hardest to avoid) parents make in the divorce process is to say bad things about the other parent. Whether the things are true or not, hearing bad things about their mother or father may cause the child to think poorly of the other parent. Saying bad things about your ex to your child can also backfire and ruin your own relationship with your child.
Step 3 – Point Out the Things That Stay the Same
Another thing that you should do is take the time that you need to point out things that are the same, even after the divorce is final. This will help your children to feel secure. They will need this feeling of security so that they are better equipped to handle all of the intense emotions and feelings that they might not be able to understand.
Step 4 – Validate Their Feelings and Emotions
Even if you do not agree with the way that your child feels, you should validate the feelings that they have. Your children could be hurt, scared, sad, angry, or any other mix of emotions. Being able to understand why they feel these things, and knowing how to assure your child that you will be there for them is very important in cases of divorce. This will give your child confidence and allow them to know that their feelings matter.
Step 5 – Allow Questions
The big rule of thumb with allowing your child to ask questions is to have guidelines for what is appropriate. You should never share information about what happened in your marriage to make the two of you separate. Instead, you should only answer questions that are important for your child to know. Let them know that you love them and that the divorce is in no way their fault.
Going through a divorce is hard for everyone involved. Far too often parents forget about how their decision is affecting their children. By talking with your children, you allow them to express their emotions and feel validated which is a healthy process of being able to let go and move on.
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