Helping Kids Cope with Divorce in California
At Zwierzchowski & Nguyen, our divorce attorneys in Long Beach have represented spouses on both sides of marriage dissolution for more than 20 years, and consider ourselves more than lawyers, but family advocates.
While all children differ in terms of how they respond to divorce, for the most part, the short-term impact is the same: Lower self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression, and less quality contact with their parents.
Although this may change as time goes on, it is important to provide the support your kids need today.
We want to empower our clients to move forward with confidence and provide their children with the tools they need to cope with divorce in California.
Tell Your Kids How Much You Both Love Them – Often
It is impossible to tell your kids you love them too much. That is true for the other parent, too. But it is equally important that you both support each other’s interactions with them by saying, “Mommy/Daddy loves you very much, and I know it is tough without her/him here, but you come first. How can I help?”
Minimize Disruptions to Their Daily Routines
Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but it is important that your kids’ daily routines stay as close to the same as it was during the marriage as it is during and after the divorce.
Your kids should not have to give up friends, sports, or other extra-curricular activities because of the divorce. Talk to the other parent about their current routines and learn how you can both adapt and transition into keeping their calendars and activities stable.
Encourage Honesty and Be Honest in Return
Kids need to know that their feelings are important and that they are being taken seriously. When you see that they are upset about something, or are feeling down, ask them what is wrong, and ask them to be honest.
Kids are going to have difficult questions and emotions, but it is important to answer them honestly, in an age-appropriate manner.
Offer Support, Even When You Do Not Have the Answers
Once your kids have had the opportunity to express themselves, ask how you can help. Chances are, they may just want to spend some well-focused time with you. Ask.
“What will make you feel better?” The answer could be going on a walk, watching a movie together, or just sitting. Being supportive means being in the moment with your kids, not brushing off their anxieties with empty responses. They need to know you understand how they are feeling by justifying their emotions.
Keep the Details of Your Divorce Private
This is difficult, but it is important. Even if you are not bad-mouthing your ex, which is completely off limits, discussing details about your legal affairs, where he or she is living, or other personal details where your kids can hear you should be too.
Limit divorce talk to private locations, outside the home, when your kids are elsewhere.
Do Not Fight in Front of Your Kids
In person, over the phone, through text messages, or otherwise, heated conversations cannot only be heard but felt through body language, expressions, and sighs.
Try to keep your interactions with the other parent civil, even if you are in the middle of a high-conflict divorce.
If you do not, your kids are going to be overly anxious, sad, and have a hard time adjusting.
Instead, fully support your kids by letting them know they should love both of you equally, and they should enjoy the time they spend with their other parent, so they never feel like they must take sides.
Enlist Help from Friends, Family, or Even Professionals
Including other reliable adults in your children’s lives will help them feel supported and loved by many dependable people – including friends, family members, or their friends’ parents – and it may even take a little pressure off you.
Role models are important during divorces, so let your parents – or the other grandparents, aunts, or uncles – take the kids to the park, a game, or other activity, so they can feel the support first-hand.
If you continue to support your kids throughout the process and have talked to the other parent about things he/she can do to help, but believe your kids are still having a hard time adjusting to the divorce, you may want to get a professional counselor or therapist involved.
Your kids deserve the opportunity to make a healthy adjustment to this major change. Help them.
If you would like to pursue a low-conflict approach to finalizing your divorce, so you, your ex-spouse, and your kids can all move forward with confidence, contact our family law attorneys and Certified Family Mediators in Los Angeles and Orange County at Zwierzchowski & Nguyen, by calling 562-426-6522 today.