Men struggle with many issues related to divorce, but none are as heart-wrenching as the impact it may have on their children. There is so much conflicting advice on this topic that it is almost impossible to point to one source as having the definitive answers to the questions of divorce and its effect on children. Fathers are often left with many questions: what should I tell the children about my divorce? How do I handle their questions? Am I hurting them by ending this marriage?
These questions are so powerful that many men stay in relationships that are unhappy or even abusive just to avoid putting the children in the position of having divorced parents. However, a University of Virginia study shows that the impact of divorce on children can be minimized depending on how it is handled by the parents. In fact, only a small percentage of children have a lasting negative impact from a parental divorce, according to this research.
What Can I Do To Make Divorce Easier on My Children?
Although it may be confusing to know how to handle certain situations with your children when you are divorcing, there are some tried-and-true rules that can help you make good parenting decisions.
- Expect and allow for short-term negativity. Most children are impacted immediately by divorce in a negative way. Be prepared for some “tears and tantrums” but understand that this is only a way for children to express hurt. The negativity should fade with time. If a child seems depressed many months after a divorce, or does not seem to be adapting well, it may be a good idea to have the child talk to a professional about their feelings.
- Avoid the slander trap. No doubt you are also hurt and this can express itself through your words and actions. Remember, however, that the quickest way to hurt your own children is by slandering their other parent. Keep your opinions to yourself and say only positive things about your former spouse, even if you have “proof” of their bad behavior.
- Answer clearly and simply. Children deserve answers, but that does not mean you have to air dirty laundry. Give children simple, concise answers to their questions but do not take the opportunity to get on a soapbox.
The Men’s Legal Center offers fathers representation that can help them overcome the problems associated with divorce and reach a resolution that helps their children avoid the negative consequences associated with divorce.