When Texas parents divorce, it can be a stressful and confusing time for the children. Many kids in divorced families feel anger, resentment and depression, blaming themselves for their parents splitting up or heaping the guilt on one parent or another. Some kids adjust rather quickly to the new normal, but others take a year or longer to cope with the divorce.
Regardless, every kid needs the love and support of their parents to help them through this turbulent time in their childhood or adolescence, otherwise divorce may have some lasting emotional effects.
Here are some tips to help relieve the difficulty of divorce on your child:
Be upfront and honest — Don’t wait until the last minute to tell your child the divorce is going to happen because kids need time to transition too. If possible, both parents should tell the kid the news together to show this is a family decision made for the long-term best interests of you all.
Empathize with their feelings — Acknowledge that your child’s sadness is valid and give them time to mourn the end of your marriage and the absence of your ex-spouse.
Minimize the stress — Anxiety can be contagious. While open communication is important, your child doesn’t need to know about your financial worries and other concerns stemming from the divorce; otherwise, your child may feel obligated to want to help fix problems that are beyond their control.
Keep them out of the middle — Don’t complain about or badmouth your ex in front of your child or use them to deliver messages. Your negativity can quickly drag your child down. Instead, focus on propping up your kid with emotional support and positivity when appropriate.
Respect their relationship — If possible, your child should be allowed and encouraged to have a healthy relationship with their other parent. Your ex’s time with your child is important too, and plans shouldn’t be uprooted suddenly. It’s OK for your kid to love both their parents and to feel comfortable talking about happy times with them and your ex.
Consistency is key — Kids need structure. If your child is moving to and from your household and your ex’s, it’s important that the rules, expectations, chores, responsibilities and consequences both parents set for the kid are as identical as possible. Don’t let one of you be the “fun” parent who is lax about curfews, bedtimes and emptying the dishwasher.
Divorce isn’t easy, and tensions can run high for everybody. If you are facing a child custody issue or other family law concern that needs to be settled in or outside of the courtroom, it’s important you understand your legal rights as a parent and speak to an experienced Texas attorney who can help you find the right solution for your family.