Deciding to get a divorce is not just something that changes your life, or even your spouse’s life. As a parent, you know well that it is going to impact the kids. There is no way around that. This is something that is out of their control, but it still drastically alters home life as they know it.
That does not mean you should stay together for the kids, as some people try to do. For instance, you never want to stay in an abusive relationship just because you think splitting up may be tough on the children. It’s far better to give them a safe, loving home where they don’t have to worry about those things. And remember that abuse does not have to be physical. It could be emotional or financial.
Marriages end. It happens. The key is simply to make sure you know how to put your children first. Here are a few ways you can do it:
- Try to stay positive. No matter how you feel, look at what the future can bring and all of the potential upsides to this new stage in your life. Talk to your children about your excitement and your plans. Show them that, while this is the end of the marriage, it’s not only an ending.
- Be honest with your kids. Tell them what’s happening and what changes to expect. Once you know that you will get divorced, never try to keep it from them. You may think you’re protecting them, but it can hurt them even more to find out from someone else.
- If possible, keep routines intact. Your children value those routines. Simple things like who takes them to school or who tucks them into bed at night — and when those things happen — help them feel safe and confident. They understand their lives a little better. If you can maintain routines after divorce, the impact isn’t as drastic for them.
- Consider other ways to keep life the same for them. For example, if they have to move, will they lose their neighborhood friends? Will they have to go to a new school? It may be worth looking into your options to stay in the same house.
- Talk with your ex and commit to your children. Set a plan in place. Agree that you both will make decisions that put the kids first, rather than yourselves. You do not have to stay married to remain excellent parents who want their children to be happy and who work together to make sure they are.
As you get closer to divorce, you need to know all of your rights as a parent and the steps you can take to focus on your children.