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How to Support Your Children When Divorcing in Edinburgh

Divorce brings emotional challenges for both parents and children. 

While dealing with your own emotional struggles, it can be difficult to support your children and be mindful of their feelings. This is nothing to be ashamed of; you are going through a massive upheaval, but it is important to give your child all the support and attention they need.

Just as you may be feeling, your child might be shocked, upset, confused, uncertain, scared, and perhaps even angry. These emotions are completely normal and part of the adjustment process. By acknowledging and validating their feelings, you can help them feel understood and supported during this challenging time. 

By understanding your children’s needs, you can help them navigate the emotions associated with divorce with confidence. To help you, this blog provides guidance on supporting your children through your divorce. 


Understanding Your Children’s Needs

I’m sometimes asked, ‘What is the worst age for divorce for children? Depending on your child’s age, the impact of divorce may be different. Very young children, such as infants and toddlers, won’t understand the concept of divorce but can still sense parental stress and changes in routine. Similarly, little children may struggle to comprehend why one parent no longer lives at home. 

School-aged children are more likely to understand the basic concept of divorce and may feel a sense of loss. This typically leads to behavioral changes and heightened anxiety. Teenagers often struggle with feelings of anger and betrayal, which may cause them to withdraw or act out. 

At the same time, sadness and grief are common emotional reactions to divorce with children of all ages. This usually occurs as children come to terms with changes in their family and routine. 

Feelings of fear and anxiety are also common as children begin to become confused and uncertain about the future. It is important to reassure children that both parents will continue to care for them and that they are safe. 

Finally, academic and social challenges are common for children with divorce. 

As a parent, communicating with teachers to ensure your child receives support away from home during this difficult time can go a long way. Professional support can also prove valuable here, consider seeking the guidance of a child therapist or counsellor who can provide a safe space for your child to express their feelings and develop coping strategies. 

Remember, it’s normal for the healing process to take time, and every child will adjust at their own pace. Your love, patience, and understanding will be crucial in helping them find their way through this transition.


How to Tell Children about Divorce

Having open and honest communication with your children helps to ease anxiety for your child by relieving them of concerns about the future. Children are also more likely to feel supported when they know you are being truthful with them. 

However, it is important to discuss divorce in an age-appropriate manner. For example, young children need clear, simple explanations that avoid unnecessary details and complexities. Focus on what will directly impact their daily lives, such as where they will live, where they will go to school, and how often they will see each parent.

Older children will probably want to ask questions, so be prepared to answer them honestly with sensitivity and care. Address their concerns directly and be open to discussing their feelings and fears. Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation and validate their emotions, reinforcing that it’s okay to feel upset or angry

Teenagers are more aware of the complexities of relationships and may have already sensed tension between their parents. When discussing the divorce with them, it’s important to acknowledge their maturity and provide a more comprehensive explanation of the situation while still keeping the focus on what is most relevant to their lives.

Respect their need for privacy and space to process their emotions. Teenagers may not always want to talk about their feelings right away, and that’s okay. Let them know that you are always available whenever they feel ready to discuss their thoughts and concerns. 

Encouraging your children to express their feelings and concerns can help them process their emotions in a healthy way. Consistent and honest communication provides stability and comfort to children and helps mitigate feelings of abandonment. 


Creating Stability and Routine 

Maintaining stability and routine during a divorce is easier said than done, but it can help children feel secure during the changes. 

Keeping to a consistent daily schedule, such as regular mealtimes, bedtimes, and school routines, can help to reduce anxiety and stress by providing a sense of normalcy. When children know what to expect, it creates a stable environment that can be comforting during times of uncertainty. Sticking to familiar routines as much as possible helps children feel more in control and less overwhelmed by the changes around them.

Continuing with family traditions and activities that children enjoy, such as visiting extended family, is also a great way to provide comfort and security to them during divorce. These traditions create continuity and remind children that not everything is changing.

Keep children informed about their schedule and any changes. To help children understand their new routine, you might find it useful to use interactive charts and calendars to provide a visual representation of their daily activities. 


Co-Parenting Effectively 

To co-parent effectively, you’ll need to maintain clear and respectful communication with your ex-partner. This can be achieved through text, email, and even co-parenting apps that allow consistent communication. 

Establishing clear boundaries will help to create mutual respect for each other’s time and space. While it can be difficult, it is crucial to focus on your children’s needs rather than past relationship issues.

Prioritising your children’s wellbeing and keeping the children’s best interest at the heart of your decision making is essential for successful co-parenting and creating a healthy, comfortable environment. 


Seeking Support During a Divorce with Children

When going through divorce, you are not alone. There are a variety of support resources available that you can reach out to and benefit from. 

Seeking professional support in the form of mediation, counseling, and therapy, can help parents and children address their emotions in a safe space. 

Mediation can help parents to develop effective co-parenting strategies and improve relationship dynamics. Similarly, counseling and therapy offer emotional support to parents as they process feelings and the changes in their relationship.

For children, counselling and therapy help to develop coping skills and a sense of security during divorce. This support can be provided to children in an age-appropriate manner to address age-related issues, feelings, and concerns regarding divorce. 


Understanding the Legal Aspects of Child Custody and Visitation 

Understanding the legal aspects of child custody and visitation allows you to navigate the legal process with your children’s best interests in mind.

In legal proceedings, the court will consider various factors when determining custody and visitation arrangements, with the primary focus being the best interests of the child. Factors taken into account may include the child’s age and developmental needs, the relationship with each parent, the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs, and any history of abuse or neglect.

It’s important to be prepared for the legal process by gathering relevant documentation, such as evidence of your involvement in the child’s life, financial records, and any relevant communication with the other parent. Working with a qualified family law attorney can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the legal system and advocating for your rights as a parent.

During negotiations or court proceedings, prioritise open communication and cooperation with the other parent whenever possible. Collaborative approaches to custody and visitation can lead to more amicable agreements and better outcomes for the children involved.


Support from Cath Karlin 

The key things to remember when supporting your children during and after divorce are to maintain open communication, provide stability, foster a positive co-parenting relationship, and seek support when needed. 

You are not alone when facing the challenges of divorce and co-parenting. With patience, communication, and a support network, you can navigate this difficult time while also supporting your children. 

Contact me to learn how I can provide professional guidance and support in child custody, mediation, and divorce proceedings. With experience in developing parenting plans, resolving conflict, and advocating for the best interests of the children, I can help you take the first step towards a smooth transition for your family. 

If you’re curious about costs, we have a page breaking down the initial costs of a consultation.