Divorce can have an impact on all different components and relationships within a family. It can affect not only close-knit family members and parents and children, but also aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and so on. It is important to make it clear to your family what your co-parenting arrangements and give them a general idea of your parenting schedule and who has the children and when. It’s also helpful to inform your family members about changes to your living arrangements now you are getting divorced. Are you moving out into a separate house with immediate effect?
Here’s a guide to how you can support different members of your family through divorce and help them to understand it a bit better.
To children of adult age who may have moved out of the family home, divorce may come as a big shock. This is mainly due to the fact that they perhaps didn’t physically witness in-person the disagreements taking place at home between you and your ex-spouse. They may feel out of the loop about the whole situation so it’s important to communicate properly with them as co-parents. You can both sit your adult children calmly around a table and explain to them that you’re getting divorced, that you will always be there to support them, and the practical implications of getting divorced and who will be living where and so on.
At first, unfortunately your children despite being of adult age may be upset and quite annoyed at you both. All you can try and do is communicate with them politely and calmly to help them understand the divorce.
Supporting teenager children already coping with developing quickly and full of emotions and high levels of testosterone through the divorce process and helping them understand it all can be a tricky business. You and your co-parent have to talk to them in a respectful manner and outline what the parenting arrangements will be in detail.
Try and stay consistent with your parenting schedule to provide your teenage children with a sense of routine and give them stability. For example, your children should know who they are staying with Monday-Friday, and who they are with Saturday-Sunday, if this is the parenting schedule you have decided on your co-parent.
Like with younger children and divorce, your teenage children should be aware they are your number one priority, and their needs will always come first no matter what. For more advice, take a look at Onward’s guide to teenagers and divorce, a new app to help divorced and separated parents manage their shared expenses.
You should definitely avoid badmouthing your co-parent in front of your teenage children as this is unhelpful and may ultimately only cause more problems in your family. Remember that teenager have minds of their own and they are no longer babies anymore. Teenagers are able to form their own opinions and make some decisions by themselves.
Helping much younger children understand divorce and the impact that it will have on their lives can be particularly difficult. Children under the age of 4 are often unable to talk, listen, and communicate properly yet with adults. So sadly, if your children are very young and at toddler age for example, it will be no use trying to sit them around the dining room table to explain the intricacies of how exactly your divorce is going to work and the parenting schedule and so on to them.
When you get divorced and have younger children, you have to buckle up and take on the reins of responsibility and get on with it as a parent. Your younger children may struggle to understand but try using simple language and maybe even images to help them understand a bit more about how it is going to work. The most important thing is to reassure younger children, show that you still love them and that they are your top priority, and provide them with the stability and security they need whilst growing up.
Keeping Grandparents Involved in Your Children’s Life
Grandparents often enjoy playing an active role in their grandchildren’s lives and like to be able to see them regularly. Your child(ren) may of course have grandparents alive from both sides of their family, both your parents and your ex-spouse’s parents. Simply because you and your ex-spouse have gone through a messy divorce should not mean that your children’s grandparents are no longer allowed to go and visit their precious grandchildren.
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can be a valuable one, with all that knowledge, wisdom, and life lessons being passed down the generations. So, make an effort to ensure that whatever age your children are, their grandparents are still as involved in their lives as they were prior to your divorce.
Cousins and Aunts and Uncles
Your children may be very close with extended family members such as their cousins, aunts, and uncles. These extended family relationships can be important to your children, especially if they are close in age to their cousins.
Supporting your family through divorce and trying to help them understand it is a difficult process. However, it’s important to try and explain it so that you can maintain good relationships with your close family members.