Children have a way of looking at the world differently than adults. When it comes to divorce, the more you try to see things through your children's eyes, the better you'll be able to help them cope. The bottom line is that something that may seem insignificant to you as an adult may be very important to a child. For instance, let's say you have a family tradition of eating pizza on Saturdays at your favorite Tennessee pizza shop.
Upon learning that you're getting divorced, one of your children may be concerned as to whether that tradition will remain. In light of all the other issues you'll be dealing with, you may think something like pizza on Saturdays is of little to no importance, but your child may find it crucial to his or her emotional stability. Key factors in helping children adapt to post-divorce lifestyles are open communication and strong support networks. Your own actions can also help your kids adapt.
Keep them informed, but no so much
Your children don't need to know every intimate detail about your situation with their other parent. As long as they understand the basic definition of divorce and that their lives will undergo changes but you'll be there to help them, they don't need to know what types of issues caused your marriage to deteriorate. Overburdening them with adult information may cause undue emotional stress.
Children fare best when parents work together
You may not want to be married to your children's other parent anymore; however, you will always have interaction with your former spouse because you are parents of the same children. If you are both willing to cooperate and act as amicably as possible for the sake of your children's best interests, they stand a far greater chance of adapting to their new lifestyle with minimal amounts of stress.
The more you argue in front of them, the more stressed they become
Contrary to parents doing their best to avoid divorce-related confrontation in front of their kids, those who argue within earshot of their children leave their kids at risk for high levels of stress. Children as young as six months of age show symptoms of stress if parents expose them to their conflicts.
Design a parenting plan that works for everyone
The court has authority when it comes to matters of custody, visitation, support or other family-related issues in divorce. However, you and your former spouse can write out your own parenting plan and then seek the court's approval. If you know, for instance, that your children get emotional over the idea of you shuttling them back and forth between households, you may arrange to pick up and drop off at a neutral location, such as their school, so both parents don't have to be there at the same time.
Enlist outside support when needed
If your kids need someone to talk to outside your family, you may consider arranging time with a licensed counselor or minister, or even a close family member or friend. Don't forget to tend to your own emotional needs as well. The more support you all have, the easier your transition to a new lifestyle can be.
Other types of needs often arise in such situations as well. Tennessee parents who encounter legal issues when coming to terms with divorce and navigating toward single parent futures often rely on experienced family law advocates to help them overcome such obstacles.