Your Family Matters

Protecting your children’s mental health in a divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | family law

Children are one of the biggest reasons Illinois couples put off a divorce. While you might know that your marriage is over, you may choose to stay together for the sake of your children.

Situations like that typically only work for a while, and eventually, one or both spouses decide that divorce is inevitable. When this happens, protecting your children’s mental health and well-being is likely one of your highest priorities.

How divorce affects children

Divorce impacts children more than you may think. Children experience feelings of abandonment or guilt, feeling that they contributed to the divorce.

Children can also become caught in the middle of their parents fighting, leading to the assumption that drama and arguing are normal. This can result in children mirroring that behavior when they become adults.

There are many things you can do to protect your children’s mental health during your divorce. Some of these tips might sound obvious, but in the middle of conflict, they are easy to forget.

Speak positively about your spouse

Do not badmouth the other parent in front of your children. Chances are, neither you nor your spouse are going to act perfect during the divorce process.

Although you could have valid reasons for being unhappy with your spouse, keep negative comments away from your children.

Do not use children to send messages

Communicate directly with your spouse. There are times when healthy communication is not possible, and using a third-party to communicate is necessary, but it should not be your children.

Using your children as messengers places a huge burden on their shoulders. They will feel like they are responsible for any conflict that results from the messages they relay, and doing this involves them in an adult situation they are not ready for.

Let your children communicate in their own way

Be there for your children and listen if they want to talk about the divorce, but do not force them to talk. Some children process feelings better through talking; some don’t.

Prioritize routines

Stick to routines as much as you can. If your children are used to having pancakes on Saturday mornings, keep doing that. Small things like this will provide them with security.

There is no way around it; divorce is complicated. Family law attorneys understand this and can help you through your divorce with compassion and guidance.