Unfortunately there isn’t a way of ensuring that the divorce will have no impact on the children. To strive for zero impact is neither a practical nor an achievable goal in Divorce. If you do, you will likely experience extreme exhaustion, lots of frustration and plenty of unwanted problems followed by a burn-out phase. It can be expected that there will be some impact on the children. A realistic goal would be to try to do what you can to minimize it. Look at the various situations and scenarios objectively and identify the areas where there you think the children will experience the biggest changes and areas that will be the most difficult for them. Depending on their age, the children's concerns may be around security, safety and protection of things/activities that have meaning and value to them. Some areas to look at are their school, friends, activities, sports and perhaps their work if they are working. Children, depending on their age, may be concerned about how they will get to and from school, who will pick them up, how they will they stay in touch with their friends, whether or not they will continue to be able to participate in their activities/interests/sports/jobs. You will want to consider the age of each child, the maturity level, their sensitivity to changes, their ability to accept changes, their relationship and connection with each parent. For children, divorce threatens both their sense of security and their feelings of significance. To calm these perceived threats they can be helped by having the least amount of change as possible and being involved in discussions that involve them. Even if what they want cannot be done, a feeling of importance is gained when they feel acknowledged having had an opportunity to speak and to be heard. It is important for them to feel they are significant and count in this process. Most of the divorcing couples I see are around 35 years old to 47 and have two children who are around 6 to 14 years of age. Children at this age have fear around these two needs: Certainty (that my life will remain the same) and Significance (that I am important). If these two needs of the children are not made a priority, the children may experience long-term effects on their health and relationships with others. Logically, this all makes sense and of course the children are our main concern. However, it may be difficult to think through the situation with clarity when you yourself may be experiencing the same fears, a constant state of overwhelm, emotional upheaval and fuzzy thinking. Try these 10 things to minimize the impact of divorce on your children;
Keep your stress down. Children will want to “save you”
Tell the children about the divorce with all of the children together so that none of the children find out earlier than the others.
Tell the children about the divorce with your spouse so the children are aware that it was a joint and amicable decision
Don’t ask the children what you should do.
Do ask the children of an appropriate age questions that involve their social life (age appropriate questions)
Do resist talking to too many friends, family and co-workers and getting multiple opinions. This will only get your thoughts spinning, elevating your stress your anxiety level
Reduce your stress by writing down the areas of divorce and tackle them one at a time. Writing things down gets them out of your head where you can look at them more logically and objectively which helps reduce the anxiety.
Do your own research and gather information before discussing with spouse. Being more informed will help you to feel more confident and less anxious in discussions with your spouse.
Do not involve children in discussions with your spouse.
Have difficult conversations while the children are not home or have them at a location outside of the home.
Final Word: Children go through the divorce with you as well, but how children go through divorce is under your control.