If you are a parent going through a divorce in Texas, then one of your most important objectives in your case is to help your children process the divorce as well as possible. For different families in different situations, this can mean different things. That is the difficult part about talking about divorces through blog posts. No two divorces are the same and the advice and perspective that would need to be shared with you about your circumstances are likely to be quite different than what would be shared with a family member of yours or a coworker. With that said, it certainly is worthwhile to try to prepare your children for the divorce. This is true not only during the case itself but In your post-divorce life.
in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to share with you some tips and perspectives regarding how you can best prepare your children for divorce no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. If at the end of today’s blog post, you have any questions about the material we discussed please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn a great deal more about how divorce can impact you and your family moving forward.
Consider their ages
Whatever help he would try to give Your children about a divorce probably the first place I would begin is to consider their ages. The simple truth is that you are not going to be able to give the same advice to young children as you would to older children. This is due to their maturity levels being so different. An older child can likely take on more information about the divorce and you will likely have to answer more questions about the nature of your relationship and what this means for the future of your family. On the other hand, younger children probably do not need to receive as much detail because they simply cannot process that degree of detail.
You are older children may have less of a concern about that day to day workings of the divorce given that they have their activities going on. However, your younger children likely spend more time at home and will come face to face with the consequences of your and your spouse’s decision to get divorced. For this reason, you should have sure them of this stability and consistency of their lives even though they’re living situations may change to an extent because of the divorce. Simply assuring your younger children of your and your spouse’s consistent love for them can be a great thing that you can do.
Assure the kids that this divorce is not their fault
It may surprise some of you to learn that children can sometimes get in their heads that the divorce was their fault. This is true even when you have never shared the details about the divorce with them or never exposed them to the disagreements that have led to this divorce. However, children have a way of internalizing certain issues related to the family. Children, for better or worse, can also view themselves as the center of the universe. Any disruptions to their lives or yours are often viewed from the prism of their having caused the harm.
Something helpful that I have seen parents do with their kids is to constantly reinforce not only their love and affection but also to hammer home that this divorce is not their fault. If you can help your kids to understand that they are not the cause of any aspect of the divorce that can do a great deal to lift them mentally. For your older children, it may be an advantage for you to talk to them openly and honestly about what did cause some of the problems in your marriage and how those may be things for him or them to be aware of as they begin to start relationships while in school. Ultimately what you share about the personal details of your divorce should be up to you. However, assuring your children that they are not the cause of your divorce seems to be a piece of advice that is worth providing for anyone who is in your shoes.
Talk to them about travel between your home and that of your Co-parent
One of the most significant transitions for your children will be the new reality that they have regarding traveling in between your home and that of your Co-parent period to this point, your children have become accustomed to having one home where both their parents lived. However, that is set to change, and your children will begin to transition to a life of sharing time between you and your Co-parent and both of your homes. Different children will adjust to this change in different ways. However, you can begin to prepare them for the impact that this may have on their lives as soon as a possession schedule is available.
For example, you can create a calendar and map out the next few months’ worths of possession with them on that calendar. That way the children can begin to understand what the possession schedule looks like and how it can impact their lives in the immediate sense. Talking to them about this change and helping them work out any logistical issues that might be associated with traveling between homes can be a great way to discuss what can be an uncomfortable topic. It is much preferable to talk about these kinds of issues together rather than to let your children worry about how a visitation or possession exchange is going to work.
Discuss any changes in lifestyle that will become necessary
Children are not any different from adults in becoming accustomed to living a certain lifestyle over a long period. When you and your spouse were married that meant that you all had a certain level of income with which you could use to buy groceries, engage in extracurricular activities, and generally spend. Now that you are going into a single-income situation your children may find that they are not able to live the same lifestyle that they had become accustomed to as far as extracurriculars, activities, and spending money in general.
This can be a great opportunity for you to discuss with your kids the important parts of life and how taking a step back in certain lifestyle areas will not be the end of the world and maybe a cause to bring the family closer together. Much of the time children come to expect that they will always have certain advantages or activities made available to them. it can be a shock to their system for you to tell them that they cannot go on a certain trip with friends or that the family will be eating in versus eating out more frequently now. However, children can get used to these changes just as well as they can. What it takes is a parent who is willing to discuss these changes and be firm with them about why you are doing the things you are doing from a spending standpoint.
To help your children focus on the positive parts of life
Although it can feel like your divorce has taken over your life that does not need to be the experience of your children. The older your children are the more they have going on in terms of their activities and lives. For older children like this, you can reinforce the importance of extracurricular activities, school, friends, and any other aspects of life that are important to them. Even as the divorce proceeds you can make sure to emphasize these areas with your children so that they do not lose sight of the fact that the world is still going on around them and that the divorce is only temporary.
Younger children have fewer activities ongoing but tend to focus less on what you and your spouse are doing. Smaller children become absorbed in their activities, and you will probably not have to remind them to engage in these activities throughout the divorce. However, you should continue to engage with your children in the same way that you did before the divorce. For example, if your children like to swim with you then you should still make time to go to the pool in the summer when able. This will provide your children with a great deal of consistency, as well.
Exercise with your kids
One of the best things that you can do as a parent is to establish a culture of health and exercise in your family. Not only is this important from a physical standpoint but it is also important from an emotional one. The difficulties associated with divorce are well known. Your children may experience the types of difficulties associated with the case. However, there is only so much sitting and talking that a family can do when it comes to working through the difficult parts of a divorce. At that point, it pays to get off the couch and exercise with your family.
Exercise does not have to mean going to the gym or running laps around the track. Exercise can mean going for a swim at the neighborhood pool. Exercise can mean turning off the TV and switching the Bluetooth speaker at home to fun music for the family to dance to together. My young kids love to jump around after dinner time and get the wiggles out before they take a bath or shower. Every family is different, but you can create a culture of exercise in ways that are fun for the whole family. Exercise is proven to be beneficial mentally and emotionally as well as physically. I can think of no better time to start your family on a journey towards fitness than during a divorce.
Help with your child’s diet
When people get busy, they tend to neglect their diet. Think about your normal day-to-day life as far as going to work, getting the kids to school, rushing home, and then having to struggle to find something to eat each night. It does not have to be this way if you and your children plan for meals. Rather than going to the grocery store and wondering what you were going to make for dinner that night or over the next few nights, you can talk to your children about healthy foods that also taste good period from there, you all can create a menu for yourselves over the next few days of how long you will be together. This can help your family to stay healthy and happy but also create an activity for your family to engage in together.
Encourage the creation of a support system for your children
For many families, this is not going to be something that takes much effort at all. For most children, having a network of family and friends close by who can provide reassurance and care during and after a divorce is an extremely important period as such, if you have family and friends for your child to lean on during and after the very important divorce. You can begin to set up this network of family and friends during your divorce.
One of the unfortunate parts of the pandemic has been some families have grown apart due to concerns about getting together socially. Now would be a great time for you to begin to invest once again in family time for your children and their extended families. If your children are concerned about the divorce, then getting them outside or in a situation where they can play with cousins or extended family can be a great advantage for them. It is difficult to worry about a divorce when playing with friends, cousins, or anyone else for that matter. Children should be aware of the divorce in many ways but do not have to fixate on the case.
Present a united front with your Co-parent
Your children may not be used to you and your Co-parent being united in much of anything. Therefore, it can be a shock to their system in a good way for you to Mike’s arms together and present a united front regarding the case. You can sit down with them altogether and assure them that not only is the divorce not their fault but that your family will come out OK on the other side of the case. For many children, this may be the first time that they have ever seen you and your Co-parent work together on anything. In a time of great uncertainty, this can be a real shot in the arm to their psyche and well-being.
Begin to promote consistent discipline across homes
If you are the disciplinarian of the two parents and your Co-parent decides that he or she is not interested in providing discipline, then this can be a great disparity and disadvantage for your children. For example, if your child misbehaves at your home and you decide to punish him or her in some way then you should communicate that punishment to your Co-parent so that he or she may continue with the punishment when your child goes to the other home. If you fail to do so then your child will not be able to pick up on any of the consistencies in discipline it may not take seriously your attempts to modify their behavior. It can be a powerful tool as a parent to show your child that she is so important to you in your Co-parent that you all will set aside any differences you all have to provide structure and discipline for him or her.
Communicate with your Co-parent
If communication was one of your strong suits, then you may not be getting divorced in the first place. While I understand this to be the case you should still make every effort to work with your Co-parent to talk about issues with your children, discipline, events upcoming, and other concerns. This way you and your Co-parent will be able to act as a united front much as I suggested earlier in today’s blog post. Whether this communication occurs digitally, over the phone, or in person he can select the method that best suits your family and go from there.
Follow through on what you say with your kids
Finally, your children are great at understanding when you are not following through on a promise or on the things that you say. When your actions do not match up with your words then your kids get the subtle impression that they cannot trust you. Always follow through with actions whenever you communicate ideas to them with your words.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.