Protecting your children’s needs during the divorce process is so vital to their emotional health. Children need structure, and their former structure has been ripped from under them. It’s up to both of you to build a new structure for your kids and protect their needs. Start by giving them a regular routine with a consistent schedule. let them know that you both will do whatever you can to help them adjust to this new life.
Divorce is a major upheaval, so do your best to keep their current lives as much the same and steady as possible. That includes school, church, hobbies and extracurricular activities. Each parent should post a visitation schedule in their respective homes and discuss the schedule with the children so there are as few surprises as possible. In addition, make sure you stick to that schedule as much as possible.
It’s easy to let your children slip into the role of co-parent to younger siblings or to become your caretaker. Don’t let this happen. Avoid putting children in untenable roles, such as saying to a son, “You’re the man of the house now.” You do need someone to confide in and perhaps a shoulder to cry on, but it’s unfair to place that burden on your children. If you need to speak to someone about how you are feeling, rely on adult family members or close friends, or arrange for counseling. Let your children be children, and don’t use them as a way to manipulate your former spouse. This ends up hurting everyone, but most importantly, your children.
No matter how well you prepare your children, the divorce affects them. Some children fantasize their parents will get back together, especially if they rarely saw the couple fighting. Let them know gently but firmly that reunion is not going to happen.