A divorce can be a confusing and scary time for children, especially if their only impression of it is one they have gained from television. Both parents need to be proactive in helping to alleviate the children's fears during a divorce. A co-parenting plan can help you and your soon-to-be ex to work together to achieve this. Here are some of the most common fears children experience when their parents are divorcing, and how to address those fears.
The divorce is my fault
It is only natural in their limited experience that children will blame themselves when their parents go through a divorce. Even teenagers can be hit with this fear and it may impact their self esteem and sense of self-worth for years if you do not alleviate it. Your children will be grieving through the divorce and perhaps for a long time after it is over. There are many books to help explain a divorce in terms that children will understand. Another good proactive step to take is to talk honestly with your children about the divorce. Let them ask questions and answer them honestly, in a kid-friendly manner.
I have to choose between parents
This fear is based on old stereotypes that one parent gets the children full-time after a divorce, and the kids will rarely see the other parent. This almost never happens in modern divorces. As you work out schedules in a co-parenting agreement, be sure that your child never has to feel guilty about wanting to see your former spouse. It is natural for children to miss the parent that they see less often. You may alleviate this by being as positive as possible about your child's time with your former spouse, no matter what your personal feelings may be.
Do my parents hate each other?
Children often fear that the strife which can come with a divorce will never be over. No matter how difficult it may be, commit with your co-parent that you will minimize conflicts and arguments in front of the children. Most disagreements can be handled in private later, without the children having to witness it, and worry about it.