How do I help my children navigate their way through divorce?

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Answered by: Keila, An Expert in the Children and Divorce Category
Remember the feeling when you held your baby for the first time? You felt a sense of awe, of incredible responsibility and commitment towards this little helpless and completely dependent little bundle of joy! You couldn't wait to teach him to throw a football; you daydreamed of the day you would walk her down the aisle. You had no trouble accepting that life as you knew it was over. It was no longer about YOU, it was about her!

Time passed. You and your spouse had irreconcilable differences. Everything crumbled. Now, back to that initial feeling. This is where it will come in handy.You can not divorce that little bundle of joy that isn't so little anymore. He still looks to you to define his identity. You are still her source of security. You are still the one that exemplifies what wo(man)hood looks like. So, here are some things to keep in mind as you help your children navigate their way through divorce. This is in no way an all inclusive list, only one that is based on personal, limited and very human experience.

1. Try to keep as close to their normal routine as possible.

The spouse that is moving out should consider not moving too far from the remaining spouse. This would negatively affect their school and friends and family relations. They need as much as possible to remain the same. Again, yes, it will be uncomfortable. You might run into your ex-spouse at the grocery store. It will get better, I promise. Keep in mind, as much as you would like to never see them again, you will always have this little person that will connect the both of you. You both love your child more than yourself. Think about how it feels to be going through this divorce. Now, multiply it by ten...that is what it must be like for your child. Come up with a list of rules you can agree on between you and your ex-spouse and keep it in both homes. Be consistent.

2. Never speak ill of the other spouse in front of the children.

If at all possible, make them feel like the best thing that's ever happened to you came out of that relationship and you would do it all over again to have them. By speaking ill of the other spouse or of the marriage you are degrading their origin and you might make some irreparable damage.

3. Seek help.

There are a vast amount of resources and support groups out there to help you not feel alone in all of this. Unfortunately, what you are going through isn't new and is "common to man". The good thing is many have gone down this path before you and have left valuable lessons behind so you don't have to make their same mistakes. Don't let shame or guilt keep you from seeking out help. Your children depend on it.

4.Definitely work on the issues that led you to divorce.

You are 50% responsible for it. If you don't work on the issues you brought into it , you might repeat your mistakes in your next relationship and drag your children through more pain.

5. Make sure to have open communication with your children.

They are loved, you aren't going anywhere. They are safe, they can be honest about their feelings. Be prepared to deal with their anger and tears.

Don't forget , he still needs that football lesson. She still dreams of you walking her down that aisle. It still isn't about you. Lovingly help your children navigate their way through divorce and you will one day have some thriving fulfilled adults.

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