The term ???healthy divorce??? sounds more like an oxymoron rather than a potential goal. However if you have children, a big part of the divorce goal should be to make the process as healthy as possible for all involved. Approaching a healthy divorce means putting the needs and concerns of your children above your own. Here are some ways you can encourage a healthy divorce environment for you and your children.
1. Encourage the children to ask questions
While it may not be prudent to advise your children on all aspects of the divorce, it is important that they feel their voices can be heard, and be reassured that althought their parents are separating, it doesn???t mean their family is falling apart. Encourage them to ask questions if they need to, and answer them to the best of your ability so that they do not feel blindsided or worse, feel as if they are to blame for the breakdown of the marriage.
2. Don???t involve them in adult matters
Although it???s important to involve your children so they do not feel completely exiled from the family unit, it???s also important to leave them out of the sensitive matters that do not involve them. Divorce is difficult for children and depending on the complexities of the situation it may be best not to share every last detail. Don???t involve children with adult-sized problems.
3. Do not make them take sides
Simply because your marriage didn???t survive it doesn???t mean that children should be forced to choose a favourite parent. Don???t try to influence your child to choose you over your former spouse. Don???t attempt to buy gifts to make your ???side??? more appealing, and do not try to discourage a healthy relationship between your children and your former spouse.
4. Ask them how they are feeling
Losing the ???mommy and daddy??? team is pretty traumatic for children of any age to have to go through. Adjusting to a new way of life, to a new secondary home and even the idea of new step-parents one day is quite an emotional load for children to carry. It???s important to ask them frequently how they feel and how they are handling all of the changes. If you notice drastic changes in behaviour in your children, perhaps it would be prudent to seek out the help of a professional therapist or family counsellor. Keep an open channel of communication with your children at all times and prioritize their emotional health.
5. Communicate with your former spouse
If your children start to ask questions about the divorce, or begin to express certain feelings about the separation, share that information with your former spouse, so that he or she can also be prepared if the children ask them questions or expresse any concerns. With greater communication, there will be less chance of confusion or conflicts between the parents and a better chance of a healthy upbringing for the children.
Divorce may feel like the biggest and most shocking experience of your life, and you may be correct in your feelings. But remember that your children deserve to have as ???healthy??? of a divorce environment as possible.