Choosing to get a divorce is one of the most difficult decisions you can make in your life — especially when kids are involved. Regardless of their age, you want to protect them at all costs and ensure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible. Of course, this is much easier said than done, as you may well know.
Aside from the legal aspects, there are emotional and parenting issues you have to deal with. At times, these can be more taxing than the financial and contractual details. However, as impossible as it may seem right now, there are ways to care for yourself and your kids as you navigate this tumultuous time in your life. Here are some tips to help you make it through and become an even stronger mama in the process.
1. Give Yourself Time
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your kids is to give yourself time to process your emotions. It’s completely natural to experience panic, confusion, sadness, anger and a slew of other feelings as you come to terms with the fact that your marriage is ending. In fact, you’ll likely go through the stages of grief as you move forward, eventually reaching acceptance.
However, as painful as the process is, it’s best not to rush it. Sit with the pain and allow yourself to break down when you aren’t on mom duty. You’re human too, after all. You deserve to explore those complicated emotions without feeling the need to suppress them 24/7.
2. Don’t Go It Alone
While alone time is essential in processing your emotions, it’s equally important to find others in whom you can confide. Up until this point, it’s likely your husband was the one with whom you would share your thoughts and feelings. Now, you must trust close friends, relatives or a therapist with the most vulnerable parts of yourself.
Of course, opening up to others can be frightening and uncomfortable. However, talking to someone else may provide you a fresh perspective or prevent you from running back to a toxic relationship for the sake of your kids. You might also consider joining a support group so you can be with others who are currently going through or have been through a divorce.
3. Become a United Front
A lack of communication is one of the most common reasons couples seek divorce. However, when it comes time to inform the kids of your decision, you must be able to speak with one another and become a united front before talking to your children. After all, this decision involves both of you, so you should both be present when telling the kids.
Moreover, your little ones will likely feel more comfortable and safe if you’re both there to explain things. Prepare for questions and make sure you and your spouse agree on the reasoning behind the divorce so you can answer them clearly and concisely.
4. Avoid Trash Talk
During that first conversation with your kids and throughout the divorce process, avoid trash-talking your spouse. Even if their actions or words were the reason for the divorce, it’s best not to drag them through the mud in front of your children. Your kids don’t need to know all the details of the divorce and, in the end, you still want them to respect both you and their father.
Plus, you don’t want your little ones to feel like they have to choose a side — especially when you’re trying to protect them from the messiness of divorce. If your partner is trash-talking you, let your actions speak for themselves and resist the urge to defend yourself. Doing so will only fan the flames and give your kids more reason to turn against one of you.
5. Don’t Make Your Kids Messengers
Even before the divorce is final it isn’t uncommon for you or your spouse to move out and begin splitting time with the kids. If you continue to share custody of the children, this cycle of having your kids and sending them off to see their father will repeat for years to come. During the early stages, many ex-couples use the kids as messengers instead of directly communicating with one another. Don’t make the same mistake.
Using your kids as middlemen puts them in the line of fire if an argument were to occur, causing real and lasting damage to their emotional health and wellbeing. Therefore, it’s best to text, call or email your ex privately or meet up and speak in person without your kids being present.
Today Is Not Your Forever
If you’re in the throes of divorce, it may be difficult — if not impossible — to see a silver lining in such a mess. Yet, it’s important to remember that you’re doing this for your kids if nothing else. They deserve a safe, loving home and divorce may have been the only way to provide that.
Find hope in the fact that even if today may be almost too much to bear, but it won’t last forever. Eventually, you and your little ones will emerge from the rubble and rebuild your lives together. Looking back, you may find this was the best thing you could ever have done for your kids and their future.