Once you’ve hired a divorce lawyer, it’s often difficult to focus on anything besides getting away from your spouse. If your spouse has initiated the breakup, then you’re probably dealing with feelings of anger and confusion. On the other hand, if you initiated the separation, then your feelings of guilt and your eagerness to move on could cause you to forget the ones that are suffering most: your kids. Follow these steps to help your kids navigate the breakup of your family.
1. Let them know that it’s not their fault.
An experienced divorce lawyer usually reminds clients not to let kids feel responsible for the end of the marriage. When you tell them that you’ve decided to separate, make sure that you let them know that they’ve done nothing wrong. Remind them that you love them and that taking care of them is your top priority.
2. Expect some unusual behavior.
Children need to know that their parents accept them unconditionally. Your children may try to test the boundaries to make sure that you still love them. Losing the family unit shatters their feelings of belonging and security. Acting out or acting unusual may be your child’s way of asking, “Will you always love me?”
3. Focus on structure.
A divorce lawyer knows that marital breakups can be highly emotional. Even if you feel like staying in bed all day, your kids need to see that you are capable of taking care of them. Focus on routines like regular mealtimes, scheduled activities, reading before bedtime, and appropriate household chores. A structured schedule can provide much needed stability.
4. Let them be kids.
Make sure that you don’t place adult responsibilities upon too-small shoulders. Avoid confiding in your kids when you experience emotional or financial problems. Your divorce lawyer may be able to refer you to a financial planner that specializes in separation or to a therapist that can be your confidante. Avoid asking your children to take on roles that are meant for adults so that they don’t begin to doubt their own abilities and strengths.
5. Shield them from new relationships.
You may decide to start seeing someone new very quickly. However, your divorce lawyer should advise you not to tell your children. To prevent unnecessary both custody squabbles and emotional distress, avoid telling your kids that you’ve met someone new until you’re sure that the new person will become a permanent part of your life. If your kids ask you whether you’re looking for a new relationship, then simply tell your child that new relationships are a long way down the road. Reassure them that you’re focused on taking care of their needs first.
6. Keep your anger to yourself.
Even if you feel angry or vengeful toward your spouse, you should avoid saying unkind things in front of your children. Instead, vent your frustrations to your therapist, trusted friends, or family. Your children shouldn’t have to feel as though they’re required to choose which parent to love.