Have an open forum. On the onset of breaking the news, it is normal for children to feel apprehension, anxiety and even anger. The first question they will have in mind is why this is happening. Most of the time children will blame themselves, so give a clear reason for the decision. Help them understand and acknowledge their feelings.
Make things easier for the children by avoiding long custody battle. Never make the children choose between you and your spouse. Let them voice out their idea of visiting and living arrangements and try to compromise with them. According to studies, children with divorced parents who get along just fine, do better academically and socially compared to those children whose parents are divorced and have a hostile relationship. In relation to this, also avoid saying negative things about the other parent in front of the child. Children look up to their parents as their role models, if this is the way you show them how you react to situations then it is not impossible for them to pick this up from you.
Avoid the over burdened child phenomenon. This phenomenon is characterized by the child attending to the needs of his custodial parent at the expense of his own. There are times that the custodial parent just gives in the emotional stress of coping with the divorce and in the process neglecting his responsibilities as a parent. Custodial parent has to be competent and always involved with the child. On the other hand, the non custodial parent should cooperate in parenting the child. Both parents, custodial and non custodial, should take an active part in the child's life.
Like it or not, the effects of divorce on children cannot be prevented. What parents and relatives can do at the least is to mitigate the process of escalation and avoiding long-term effects like low self esteem, guilt/self blame, alcohol and substance use, defiance etc... Or better yet, try to salvage the marriage first.
Tags: divorce, children, family, relationship