You will never hear a child of divorce say, “you know, I really wish my parents would have told me more about their divorce, “ or “I really wish my parents would have put me in the middle more”. In fact, kids often say, “I wish I didn’t feel like I was in the middle all the time.” If you want to know how to protect your kids in divorce, remember that kids are always better off when parents make the conscious decision to insulate them as much as possible.
How to Insulate your Kids in a Divorce
Being intentional about protecting your children can decrease long-term effects like anxiety or depression from divorce or separation. Of course, it’s never the intent of parents to negatively impact their child’s ability to have healthy relationships. It’s also never the intention of parents to be a reason their child’s grades have slipped. BUT if restructuring isn’t handled in a helpful way, these unintended circumstances can become a reality for kids.
In order to insulate your children from the complexity of the adult world of restructuring, try these helpful tools:
Be really intentional about not putting your kids in the middle. The first step is grounding yourself enough to navigate this time of transition. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s more about being present than being perfect. Determine your circle of support and lean on them. If you need help determining who fits in your circle of support check out our online co-parenting course. The first section of the course is focused on YOUR wellbeing and making sure you have the support systems YOU need in place.
Put Your Oxygen Mask on first…
When you are on a flight, the first thing you hear the flight attendant saying is, “should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your nose and mouth before assisting others.” That’s exactly what you need to do. It’s imperative you take care of yourself and know how to self-regulate. Without you being present and calm, it can feel chaotic for you and your children.
If you want to know more on how to protect your kids in a divorce, here are four foundations that will support your children, keep your kids out of the middle and be a helpful foundation for you and your co-parent.
The Four Foundations
- Commitment: to working with your child’s other parent and showing up with your best self. By doing this you are recognizing you can’t control your child’s other parent, AND you can choose to control how you act, react, and show up for your children. Showing up with your best self means prioritizing parent mental health. Children need us to show up, and we do that by caring for ourselves first and prioritizing parent mental health.
- Self Awareness and dedication: to set apart your relationship or marital emotions from your parenting. Compartmentalize when you need to wear your mom/dad hat instead of the “ex” spouse or ex-partner hat. And, if you were never in a relationship/partnership with your child’s other parent, a dedication to setting apart any negative or hindering feelings towards that person as an adult, and focusing on them as your child’s other parent.
- Willingness: to create a new relationship with your former spouse/partner or your child’s other parent if you were never in a relationship with them. Moving forward you recognize that you can’t change the past or people. You accept the decisions and choices that were made to get where you are now. Whether you chose them or not (this is SO hard!) You realize and accept that in order for your child to thrive, they need you to control what you can…which are your thoughts, feelings, and actions toward them and their other parent.
- Learning: to put your kids first through restructuring and divorce Children have a voice when their family restructures, but they don’t have a vote. We insulate children from these adult decisions and want to make sure children are never placed in the middle of parenting decisions. Children can easily get caught in the middle of adult conflict, but by building robust self-awareness and keeping your children in FOCUS and not in the middle, you will be able to provide them their best ability to adjust to life circumstances, and provide for their positive well- being.
How do you want your kids to look back on your divorce?
It can be hard to envision life beyond this transition. Ask yourself “what do I want my kids to say 20 years down the road about each of their parents – and how we navigated our divorce?”
Curious or need more help in navigating your divorce or restructuring? Our Parenting from Two Homes course includes 6 modules to help walk you from preparing yourself, preparing your kids, navigating conflict, and setting boundaries within co-parenting. Check it out here.
Need help in talking with your kids about divorce or separation? Check out our blog: Intention Test as a helpful guide.
Overwhelmed by all the decisions you may have to make in this transition? When you purchase our Parenting From Two Homes course, you get a free Parenting Plan Guide. Our guide includes 14 pages of helpful guidelines while writing your parenting plan.
Want something with more support and the ability to track your emotions?