It’s the worry every parent has. What happens to the kids after divorce? Will they be ok? Will this ruin their lives? Am I doing the right thing? In this week’s post, I’m breaking down some of the thoughts/feelings kids have after divorce to help you plan for handling it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, there’s a lot of support along the way when it comes to handling your kid's thoughts and emotions.
Kids are naturally selfish. They’re supposed to be! It’s part of how they navigate the world and learn. When they first hear about the divorce, one of the feelings they’ll have (and may ask you) is What’s happening to me?
There are so many variations of this including, “Why is this happening to me?” and “What now?” For children, safety is generally found in their homes, so when big changes come in their home, they need to know how it’ll affect them so they can feel safe.
Think back to your own childhood. You loved both of your parents, didn’t you? Maybe you felt closer to one or the other, but you certainly didn’t want to lose either of your parents. You loved them! In fact, you loved them so much, you didn’t want to disappoint them.
In divorce situations, Kids worry, “Whose side should I be on?” It’s easy to understand why, isn’t it? You’re worried about how they’ll handle the change divorce brings. Your ex is likely worried about the same thing. Your kids are worried about disappointing you. When the kids feel this, it’s generally when they’ll say what they think you want to hear post-divorce. Phrases like, “I wish I could see you all the time” come up and many parents interpret that as their kids saying they want to be with them instead of their ex. In many cases, what this means is, “I don’t want to disappoint my Mom/Dad, I really DO wish I could see them all the time, I just wish it was with both Mom and Dad.”
Kids thrive in routines. Mom wakes them up. Dad makes breakfast and gets lunches together. Mom takes them to school. Dad picks them up. They do homework and either Mom or Dad make dinner. This is life. When divorce happens and Mom and Dad live separately, they’re left wondering, “What happens now?” It’s the little things like who’s going to make breakfast when I’m at Mom’s house that can make them worry all night long. Though it’s small and you know that you’ll handle breakfast easily, they may be scared to ask.
All of these questions run through the minds of many kids. How many of them ask their parents? It depends on your relationship, on your level of communication, and how often you get to discuss these things with them.
Most parents focus on the kids after divorce albeit in their own way. While one is worried about school and homework, the other may be worried about getting their kid’s toys and games together at both homes so their child feels safe in both places. This post is meant to help you understand what may be beneath the surface. When kids aren’t able to or aren’t willing to communicate what they’re thinking to you, it comes out...it comes out in ways that parents worry about, namely difficult behavior.
Comment below with what your children struggled with after your divorce.
For many parents, THEIR emotions need to be in check before they can have these conversations with their kids and that’s perfectly normal. Sign up below to get the free training to get your emotions managed so you’re better able to help your kid's manage theirs, too. (Available Soon)