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The Dos and Don'ts of Navigating Divorce With Your Kids

Here’s what to do (and what not to do) to help you prioritize your child’s mental and emotional well-being.

Relationships
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Divorce is never easy. It’s hard on everyone involved, especially kids. No parent wants their children to be impacted in a negative way by divorce.  

As you and your family navigate a divorce, emotions will run high. Tempers can flare, fights can spark up, and there’s potential for lasting damage. In this situation, it’s important to remember the wisdom Ephesians 4:31-32 gives us: 

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 

As difficult as divorce is, it can be a significant opportunity to set an example for your kids. Here are some ways you can model the wisdom of Ephesians 4 and show your kids love, patience, and kindness during this tough situation: 

Do 

Reassure them of your love. It's crucial to let your children know that they are loved by both parents, regardless of the changes in the family structure. Remind them that your love for them remains unwavering. 

Support your child’s relationships. Encourage your children to maintain relationships with extended family members and friends on both sides of the family. These connections provide comfort and stability during uncertain times. 

Keep consistent rules and expectations. Create a sense of security by maintaining consistent rules and expectations at both homes. Children thrive when they know what to expect and feel secure in their environment. 

Prioritize your kids over adult disputes. Remember that your children's well-being should always come before any adult disputes or issues with your ex-spouse. Avoid involving them in conflicts and disagreements. 

Give your kids (and yourself) time to heal. Give yourself and your children the necessary time to heal. Avoiding dating during the first year of the divorce can help provide your kids with the space and attention they need to cope with the changes. 

Keep your promises. Be mindful of the promises you make to your children. It's essential to follow through on your commitments to build trust and reliability. 

Establish new patterns. Create new routines and activities that you and your children can look forward to each week. These routines can help provide a sense of normalcy and excitement in their lives. 

Don’t 

Make your kids pick a side. Never force your children to choose, defend, or stand up for one parent over the other. It places an unfair burden on them. 

Use your kid as a messenger. Resist the temptation to use your children as messengers or spies to relay information to your ex-spouse. Communication should be handled directly between adults. 

Discuss parenting skills and strategies in front of your kids. Avoid talking about "good parenting" or "bad parenting" in front of your children. Such discussions can create confusion and emotional turmoil. 

Discuss adult issues with your children. Shield your children from adult issues like child support, financial matters, relationships, or affairs. These topics are not suitable for young ears and can cause anxiety and confusion. 

Try to buy your child’s affection. Resist the urge to shower your children with material possessions. What they truly need is your presence, love, and stability, not extravagant gifts. 

Fight in front of your kids. Never argue or fight in front of your children. Witnessing parental conflicts can be distressing and emotionally damaging for them. 

Guilt-trip your kids. Never make your children feel guilty about spending time with the other parent. Encourage a healthy and positive relationship between your children and their co-parent. 

Navigate this season alone. Community is a powerful way to find support, guidance, and encouragement during difficult transitions. Talking to a counselor, a friend, or a support group can help you process and learn from other parents who are navigating divorce with their kids. At LCBC, we even offer Groups that connect divorced parents and give them a safe space to process and grow together. 

Divorce is a challenging journey, without a doubt. But it doesn't have to leave a lasting negative impact on your kids. It's possible for parents to prioritize their child's emotional well-being, providing them with the love, support, and stability they need amid changes to their family structure. Remember that your actions during this time will play a crucial role in shaping your children's future. 

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Every parent wants to be the best they can be for their kids, and we’d love to support you! Here are some other parenting resources we think you’ll like: 

How to Teach Your Kid to Forgive 

What to Do When Parenthood Isn’t What You Expected 

5 Tips for Praying With and For Your Kids 

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LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you! 


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