Though this is something I don’t talk about too often, it is a topic that has been a part of my life and something that thousands of others deal with as well. Dealing with divorce can sometimes be a nasty time in our lives and perhaps that can be expected. But it is possible to also have a peaceful divorce? With time and tempering, yes- I think it is definitely possible. My ex and I are separated until legal matters are taken care of, but as far as we’re concerned- there is no reconciling. We’ve both moved on even though we’re still technically dealing with our divorce. When children are involved, divorce can become even more messy. Here are 5 tips for dealing with divorce to keep things as peaceful as possible.
My ex and I probably got married too quickly, and whether that was a factor in our divorce… I’ll never know. I could say that it was hundreds of little things that contributed or that it was a few big things. In reality it was a combination of both. It was also a matter of me growing up and outgrowing him. This may seem harsh, but it’s true. I was 19 when we got married, he was 31. While he had lived a better portion of his life, I had barely stepped into mine.
I can also say that age factored into our divorce and that Sweet B’s autism also contributed.
But what are ways to deal with divorce to keep the situation as peaceful as possible for everyone involved? Here are 5 tips for dealing with divorce.
The best way for you and your child to successfully transition through this challenging time is to find support. Support can come in the form of friends that are there to listen to you and help you navigate living on your own. Support can also come in the form of counselors.
Make Changes Slowly
Children need time to adjust to their new family structure and living arrangements. If you have the ability to stay in your home, that’s ideal. The more that you can keep the same, the better. When changes need to be made, and they often do, try to make them as gradually as possible. Give your child time to adjust to each new change before adding another one.
Keep Routines the Same
Whether you’re in a new house, a new state, or living with friends or family, the more you can keep your child’s routines the same, the better. For example, if they always have a snack when they get home then continue that tradition.
If they have a bath before they go to bed, continue that routine. Do what you can to minimize or eliminate change. Some changes may not be preventable; however, it’s usually possible to make accommodations to support your child’s adjustment. Children tend to perform better and adjust when they know what to expect. If they’re splitting time between two houses, work with your ex to find a routine that you can both support.
For Sweet B, this was especially important. Her autism requires a routine so we’ve both done our best to make sure that her routine is still in place.
One area that may become lax is discipline. Parents tend to feel guilty about divorcing and become less rigid with the rules. Don’t do this. Your child still needs rules and consequences. Yes, they need support and understanding. Discipline is part of supporting your child. Continue to observe the same rules as before and follow through with the same consequences.
What’s the Truth?
Regardless of the reasons for the divorce, the facts are that:
* You and your spouse are no longer happy as married people.
* You will all be much happier when you’re no longer married.
* You both love your child unconditionally and that will never change.
* You’re still a family with them.
* You will do whatever you can to support them.
The truth doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out reason for the divorce and it shouldn’t be. Your child doesn’t need to know who did what to whom. They do need to know that you love them and that it’s all going to be okay.
Talking about the divorce and telling your child the truth about what’s going on helps keep the lines of communication open. There will be bumps along the way. However, if your child knows that they can talk to you and that you will listen and tell them the truth, you’ll navigate those bumps a lot more easily.
One thing that I would not do, even if others might, is to tell the child that it’s not their fault. Obviously, it’s not. So why complicate matters or even plant that seed.
In our situation, this wasn’t something that factored in. Sweet B is non-verbal and I’m not sure how much she would understand if I tried to explain this to her. When my parents got divorced, they were truthful and honest with me. I appreciated that and it helped me deal with things easier.
Getting divorced is never easy. But sometimes it does happen. You might have tried your hardest to make it work, you may have gone through marriage counseling… any number of things. Divorce doesn’t have to be the end of your life, just because it’s the end of your marriage. Just look at it as the end of a chapter.
And if this should happen to you, please keep your children at the forefront of your mind in all that you do. The divorce is already affecting them, they really don’t need the added stress of being stuck in the middle or being used as pawns in your game of chess.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to sign up for my newsletter - and get your copy of the Autism Family Toolkit for free.