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How to Lessen the Traumatic Effects of a Nasty and Prolonged Divorce on Children

Divorce is often a very difficult and emotionally draining process, especially if the divorce is not the product of an amicable separation. Divorcing spouses frequently fight, yell, and cry and home is not a happy place for anyone. It’s a traumatic time for separating spouses, but it can also be a particularly traumatic time for their children. Even if you cannot avoid the fact that your divorce is contentious, you can, and should, minimize the effect it has on your children. Here are some tips and strategies you can use if you and your children are struggling with divorce.

Agree With Your Spouse Not to “Weaponize” Your Children

Sadly, separating couples often treat their children as “weapons.” They have their children deliver messages to their ex, bad-mouth their ex to their child, or even make the child feel guilty for spending time with about their ex-spouse. None of this is appropriate, and it can actually harm your children.

If you and your spouse are engaging in any of these behaviors to any degree, for the sake of your child you must stop. While the last thing you’ll want to do is interact with your ex, set up a time to talk with them about how your behavior is affecting your child. If your child wants to, give them the opportunity to attend this meeting and share how your behavior is impacting them. Then, lay down some ground rules: no bad-mouthing each other to your child, and no making your child feel guilty or used.

Use the Divorce as a Teachable Opportunity

The way you handle negative situations serves as a model for how your children will handle them in the future, so use your divorce as a teachable opportunity whenever you can. The Hey Sigmund psychology advice website has some great tips on how to do this:

  • Teach your children that relationships are worthwhile, that you learn from bad ones, and that it’s okay to walk away from bad ones.

  • Let your children know that it’s normal and okay to get sad, and that it’s okay to talk about it with others.

  • Your children will see that you and your ex don’t like each other anymore. Tell them that it’s okay to not get along with everyone, and that just because you don’t get along with someone doesn’t mean they are a bad person.

  • Your children may see that you and your ex aren’t nice to each other. When this happens, it’s important to tell them that just because someone says mean things doesn’t make them true, and that a lot of times people say mean things because they want other people to feel as bad as they do.

  • Teach your children that things that are bad and sad will happen in life, but that it is not the end of the world when they do. It is how you handle them that matters.

What Should I Do If I Need a Divorce?

If you are contemplating divorce, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Blair H. Chan III, PLLC. They bring compassion and expertise to the table and are ready to help make your divorce as stress-free as possible for you and your children.

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