FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-17
Divorcing Texas parents must help their children adjust to a new life. Experts have suggestions for supporting children during and beyond what is likely to be a major upheaval in their lives.
Talking with children
Regardless of the child’s age, some basic principles always apply: tell the truth, keep it simple and avoid bad-mouthing or blaming the other parent.
Children want to know what is going on and why, but they don’t need a lengthy, involved explanation. The simplest statements are the best. When explaining why they can’t stay together, it is important for parents to stress that they will always love the children and be there for them.
Children also need to hear about the changes they will be experiencing, but should not get be given too much information all at once, as it could be overwhelming.
Even though parents may not get along, they must make an effort for the children’s sake to present a consistent message of love for the children. Saying negative things about the other parent is likely to upset a child. Parents should also agree about what to say when children ask why they are getting divorced.
Parents should resist any urge to blame the other parent or anyone else for the divorce. Modeling respect for the other parent will go a long way toward reassuring children that it is okay for them to continue to love both parents.
Providing emotional support
While parents may need emotional support themselves, they need to prioritize their children’s needs ahead of their own. Parents should not vent negative feelings in front of children nor expose children to angry exchanges with the ex-spouse, since doing so could be frightening for the children and leave them worried about losing their parents’ love.
Taking time and attention to listen to children is vital. Listening lets children know they are valued and that their feelings are legitimate. They should be encouraged to express their feelings.
Some children may fear that they caused the divorce through misbehavior, and they need specific reassurance that they are not to blame.
Children find familiar routines comforting. Although some routines may need to change, parents can establish new ways of doing things that will come to provide reassuring stability.
It is hard for kids to adjust to too many changes at once. As much as possible, keeping a few simple structured routines in place will give children an anchor to hold onto while so much about their lives is changing dramatically.
Although attorneys are not family therapists, attorneys are a valuable resource for help with issues like parenting plans and child support. Calling on an experienced family law attorney is a wise choice when going through a divorce or when modifying orders for custody or child support. With skilled support on legal matters, it will be easier for parents to focus their attention on fully attending to their children’s needs.