As the Brangelina divorce was getting the headlines, many of us could not help but wonder how the six kids of this marriage will go through this high profile divorce, and what can be done by their parents in order to help them. Going through parental divorce as a child could be devastating. Children's sense of security in life revolves around their parents and their home, and when those change drastically or get chaotic, there is real concern for their emotional well-being.
At a 50 per cent divorce rate, divorce is inevitable in many cases, and so the difference between children doing well through parental divorce, or at least good enough or doing poorly, lies completely in the parents' hands.
Here are the five most important tips for helping your kids through divorce, because in life, whether you are a Brangelina child or not, you have every right to be happy and flourish, regardless of your parents relationship:
Keep It Stable:
While kids do need stability, which is oftentimes shaken through divorce, through not only residence changes but also in changes in the presence of one or both of the parents, stability can be obtained through clear and easy to understand schedules that allow both parents contact with the kids. While in some cases that may mean equal access to the kids (50-50 parenting schedule) in other cases that may not work and other arrangements may be worked out. Any arrangement of schedule is fine as long as it highlights what is best for the kids and allows ongoing contact with both parents. Sticking to the kids current schedule, school, social connections and activities as much as possible will allow the kids to find comfort in continuing to do what they love in a familiar schedule, in a familiar environment and with familiar people. Tearing them apart from that, radically changing their schedule and environment might create anxiety, distress and many upset feelings.
Keep It Teamwork:
What happened between the parents, whether allegations of substance abuse, infidelity or just a relationship that has gone south, is completely between the parents. You know that co worker that you really can't stand and you still work with just because you really do not want to lose your job? That's the kind of teamwork that you should have with an ex spouse. There is a precious project at stake, and that project is the upbringing of children. No matter what you think about the other parent, and even if you think that you are so much more qualified than the other parent as a caregiver to the kids, you figure out how to work with them. I am not talking about parents who become disengaged with their kids. This is a whole different ball game. I am talking about parents who want to be involved in their kids' lives, but just cannot overcome their resentment to the other parent. Put the kids first. Focus on the project. It is the most important one in your life, now and always. The fact that you think that the other person is a piece of work is not relevant. You have got to figure out how to somehow work with them. You owe it to your children no matter what.
Keep Your Cool:
Kids are ok when they see that their parents are ok. Distraught, upset, adversarial parents who are preoccupies with their negative feelings with each other and how upset they are by the legal or day to day actions of the other, are perceived by their kids as unavailable and unstable emotionally. This might create anxiety for many, many kids. Kids rely on their parents to be the strong, powerful entities that they can lean on so that they can grow. The strength of parents gives kids a sense of confidence. When parents appear weak, distraught and unstable, kids develop various levels of anxiety and will typically not do well. It is the responsibility of parents going through divorce to take care of themselves so that they can take care of their kids. Parents need to keep their cool to the best of their ability so that they can take good and smart decisions through the process, avoid acting in the heat of the moment and remain emotionally available to help their kids through the storm.