Even the most civil of divorces can still cause a certain amount of anxiety in the kids. The parents are working out the details of dividing assets, determining custody and parenting plans, child support as well as many other details. These all add up to significant changes in the lives of children who want nothing more than going back to normal.
Well-intentioned parents may wish to share details about the divorce, perhaps in hopes of enabling the children to understand what is happening and why. This information should be age-appropriate and should not dwell on blaming one parent. Regardless of any transgressions, it is best to avoid any details (sordid or otherwise) that paints the other spouse in a bad light.
Rather than oversharing, it may make more sense to ask the children what their concerns are. This may take more than one conversation because the children will likely not be able to process the information immediately. In fact, parents may have to look for actions and anxieties in the children to find out how the kids really feel or what they think.
Each child is different and will have various concerns or priorities, some related to their age. According to researchers, typical fears include:
- Who will come to their events or games?
- Who will cook them dinner or a favorite meal?
- Who will help them with homework?
- Who will drop them off at school and pick them up?
- Who will take care of them if they get sick?
- Who will they talk to when they have a problem or need advice?
Effective co-parenting helps
Most parents try to minimize the disruption to their children’s lives, but they will also need to communicate, remain flexible and strategize on how to best address the children’s needs. Parents may not always agree on solutions, but kids are often clear about what they need and want. Creating a strong parental partnership can go a long way toward addressing any issue as they arise.