While a divorce may result in a happier and healthier home life for everyone in the long run, a split from your spouse is certain to have an effect on your children. Kids who are exposed to divorce are more likely to have ongoing academic challenges. Some are even at risk of committing a crime while they're still a juvenile, or using drugs and alcohol as a teen.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to lessen the stress and make life easier on the kids after your divorce, so they're less prone to behavioral and emotional issues that affect their quality of life. Here are a few options worth considering:
Stick to Your Custody Agreement
One of the most important things you can do to make your children feel loved and supported is to stick with your child custody agreement, whether court ordered or mutually created. Once your children get used to the visiting and living schedule, they will come to rely on the routine to feel safe and secure.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with making a small change once in awhile to accommodate special occasions. But it's best to avoid skipping weekend visits when possible or trying to extend visits when it's not in the schedule. This can quickly result in conflict with your ex-spouse, which in turn will weigh on the kids as they're fought over.
If your ex-spouse is problematic when it comes to sticking with the schedule, don't be afraid to ask your lawyer to petition the court and ask for help with enforcement of the agreement. The goal is to provide a conflict free lifestyle with a living schedule for your children that they can depend on.
Spend Some Time at Group Therapy
An effective way to keep everyone in the family on the same page and to quickly resolve conflicts as they arise is to attend group therapy with your ex-spouse and all of the kids at the same time if possible. This gives everyone a chance to share their feelings and concerns in a controlled environment where solutions can be found before leaving when possible.
Sending your kids to therapy sessions that involve use peer counseling techniques can help them work through problems and feelings that they might be afraid to share with the family in group session. Many counselors offer one-on-one sessions using cutting edge techniques, such as play therapy, to provide treatment. This allows the kids to play with things like sand and toys to act out feeling that they don't know how to express through their words.
Ask for Help with Decision Making
There are undoubtedly many changes that your children will face after divorce. But some of that change can be an exciting experience as long as they are a part of the decision making process. For example if you move, you can ask the kids to help decorate the new place or choose the wall color in one room. Go the route your kids prefer when you take them to their other parent's home. Ask for help choosing dinner and preparing it a few nights a week.
Empowering your children to make positive choices during times of disappointment and when change is necessary will not only help them transition to life after the divorce, but it will also give them the practice they need to deal with tough situations as they grow older.
With some commitment and just a little bit of patience, you can help your children maintain the confidence and security they need to live a balanced life as they grow up that doesn't revolve around their mom and dad's divorce.