Split Decision (Divorce)

Going though a divorce ” remember that kids come first.

Going through a divorce is a pretty tough time for everyone involved. Parents who are separating can often be so caught up in all the stress and problems involved in the ending of a relationship that they forget about what matters most ” the kids.

Divorce can affect kids in different ways. It can depend on many things, such as their age and how bad the situation is between parents. But no matter how they react, you need to help them cope with what is a major upheaval in their lives. They might be worried that you won’t love them anymore, they could be distressed by the instability of their environment, and they could be stressed out about new living arrangements and which parent they live with.

The best way to help your kids cope through a divorce is to attempt to maintain routine in their daily lives as much as possible. You should also talk openly to them about what is going on, and what will happen next. Listen to any concerns they have, discuss things that might change, and include them in any important decisions.

It’s also important to emphasise that your kids are not to blame for your divorce. If you are upset in front of your kids, make sure you let them know why you’re upset, or they may become anxious that they’ve done something wrong.

Although you may be worried about your kids being unhappy, you still need to maintain your normal level of discipline ” don’t let them get away with things that used to be out of bounds just because you’re feeling guilty. Spoiling your kids will also confuse boundaries, and may turn into a competition between you and your ex-partner about who can give them the best gifts.

Try not to speak bitterly about your ex-partner in front of your kids, and ask your ex-partner to do the same. Any bad feelings you may have about each other should stay between the two of you, and be dealt with when the kids aren’t around. You should also encourage your kids to keep spending time with extended family members from both sides, as they can be a useful support network.

Also, although it may seem hard to imagine right now, you might want to consider how you’ll deal with any future relationships.

Remember ” divorce is hard on everyone. As a parent it’s your responsibility that the process is as painless for your kids as possible, and our kids will need you more than ever. But to look after your kids you also need to look after yourself. Get the help and support you need. For more information about divorce and working out parenting responsibilities, head to www.australia.gov.au/familyrelationships

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