10 THINGS ALL DIVORCING PARENTS SHOULD TELL THEIR CHILDREN
1. It is not your fault. Whether a child is three or 30, it is a natural response to look for reasons why parent’s divorce and to blame themselves.
2. There is no right or wrong way to feel. When adults go through a divorce, emotions run the gamut. The same holds true for children. Children of all ages need to know that on some days they may feel a whole range of emotions. All of these feelings are natural, and may fluctuate throughout the day and over time.
3. There is outside support if you need or want it. Help is out there for parents and children. It is only a matter of asking for it. Support is important for everyone involved.
4. Both of your parents love you. It is extremely important to reassure children that divorce is a relational matter between two parents, and not between parents and their children. Yes, living arrangements will likely change, but should not affect the love between a parent and child.
5. Parents show love in different ways. Children often question how much each of their parents love them in the wake of a divorce. In doing so, they tend to quantify, measuring the actions of one parent against those of the other. A wide range of situations may dictate that one parent spends more time with children than the other parent, spends more money, or engages in more enjoyable activities together. Reminding children that none of these scenarios indicate how much love a parent has for a child, and may be merely logistical and unavoidable consequences of divorce, is critical.
6. Your parents’ divorce does not define you. Children need to remember that just because their parents are divorcing, they are still the same person they were before. Hopes, dreams, and goals remain the same, and their parents’ divorce is no reflection on them.
7. Your relationship with each of your parents is independent of the other. It is important for children to maintain a separate and private relationship with each parent. As tempting as it may be to play the game of he said, she said with your children, kids must feel safe and secure in their relationships with each parent in order to have consistently healthy interactions on both sides.
8. It is not your responsibility to fix your parents’ marriage. Marriage is a private matter between two individuals, individuals who were once closest in the world to one another. Children are not privy, nor should they be, to what goes on between a husband and wife.
9. Marriage can be wonderful. Children should understand that just because their parents’ marriage may not have worked out in the end, it doesn’t mean all marriages fail.
10. Life goes on. Children will survive divorce, as will their parents. Change is difficult, but also inevitable. Divorce can ultimately be a positive experience for everyone involved, affording a second chance at a new and better life. As parents, we would never hope for or accept anything less.
Huffington Post: April 2014