In Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania and across the country, many parents will decide in 2020 that they no longer wish to remain in unhappy marriages. If you’re one of them, your children’s best interests are no doubt one of your greatest concerns. It’s no secret that divorce has a significant impact on children, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible for your kids to cope with the changes in their lives in a healthy, productive manner.
Your children will definitely be closely observing you as you navigate divorce proceedings. Kids take their cues from their parents. If you appear overly stressed, angry or worried, their own stress levels are bound to soar. On the contrary, if they believe that you are confident, and that while your lives are changing, everyone is going to be okay, they are far more likely to develop good coping skills.
Let them know what’s going to happen
Children often worry about where they will live and what’s going to happen to them with regard to their relationships with their parents when they learn that their parents are filing for divorce. You definitely don’t have to give your kids all the details of the events that led to your decision; in fact, that would likely not serve their best interests because some issues are too complex for children to understand or emotionally process.
However, if you explain that you and your ex both love your children and are going to work together to take care of them and support them, their fears may be somewhat alleviated. Kids often blame themselves for their parents’ divorce, so it’s a good idea to tell your children that yours and your spouse’s decision to go separate ways is not their fault.
Let them know it’s okay to love both of you
Another issue your kids might be worried about as you prepare to settle your divorce is whether you or your ex will get upset with them if they express love for both of you. Letting your kids know it’s okay to talk about their other parent in your presence and that you encourage them to maintain an active, loving relationship with him or her gives them good coping skills that will help them adapt to their new lifestyle.
Along these same lines, always try to avoid speaking negatively about your ex when your children are within earshot. It’s not uncommon for parents to disagree about certain issues, such as child custody, alimony or property division, but the less contention you expose your children to, the better able to come to terms with the situation they might be.
What if a co-parent problem arises?
Any number of child-related issues may arise that place you and your ex at odds during or after divorce. If such issues pertain to their education or school experiences, you might consider enlisting support from school faculty or guidance counselors. Emotional support can often be found for children through trusted friends, licensed counselors or extended family members.
Legal issues, on the other hand, can be challenging to overcome. The good news is that you don’t have to try to resolve such issues on your own. In fact, many Pennsylvania parents stay closely connected to experienced family law attorneys for this reason so that they can quickly access support if needed.