“We are getting divorced.” For kids, hearing these four words can feel like their life is falling apart. They may feel shock, uncertainty, grief, anger, and even guilt. Despite a separation being the best decision for the entire family, it can be hard for kids to understand this at the moment.
As you and your family navigate this transition, there are steps you can take to reduce your children’s pain.
Breaking the News
There’s no easy way to tell your kids you are getting divorced, but it’s best to have both parents there for the conversation. This shows that you are still a united front. Additionally, the last thing you want them to believe is that you are breaking up because of the kids, so reassure them that they are not to blame. Try to give them as much information as they need to know to prepare for the upcoming changes, but remember that they don’t need to know all the details.
Put the Kids First
In Minnesota, custody issues are decided with the child’s best interest at heart. As you move forward with the divorce process, both parents should have the same mindset. Too often, parties focus on “winning” and “losing,” especially when matters are litigated, which can be harmful to the children. Parents who want to preserve the child’s best interest should consider child custody mediation to find a custody arrangement that everyone is satisfied with. Mediation can significantly help parents develop a parenting plan and schedule their respective rights and responsibilities when it comes to providing for the care and upbringing of their children with the help of a trained mediator.
Leave Conflict at the Door
Studies have made it clear, whether you are married or divorced, that conflict is damaging to kids and can lead to anxiety and depression. Children whose divorced parents continue their high conflict (for example, by continuing litigation) do not experience the same level of relief as those whose parents could minimize their conflict. So it is the conflict, and not necessarily the divorce, that puts your children at risk.
Divorce is an adversarial process— pitting two sides against each other, and kids are often caught in the middle, but there is a solution. Working with mediators who help you divorce more peaceably will help you and your children recover and adapt to the new family structure. You should not have to choose between obtaining a divorce or separation and protecting your children’s interests.
With your support, your kids can not only successfully navigate this unsettling time but even emerge from it feeling loved, confident, and strong.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified child custody mediators, call our team at (320) 299-4249.