You’re getting divorced and you are definitely not feeling “okay.” Emotionally your world feels turned upside down.
You’re scared about your future, afraid, and feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. STOP! Take a deep breath and don’t panic. This happens to almost everyone in this situation, particularly if the divorce is unexpected or unwanted. You’re going to be alright. This too shall pass. It’s time to shift into crisis management mode for yourself and your children. While doing this be gentle with yourself and give yourself a break. Slow down and try to find your equilibrium.
Now you’ll want to activate your support system.
Reach out to your most trusted friends and family. Let them know what is happening. Try and keep your daily routine as close to the same as possible. Exercise and engage in your hobbies if you can. Don’t make unnecessary major life decisions in this state. Seek support from a counselor or clergy if you are struggling. Don’t isolate. Everyone needs some help and support in this situation.
Now, about the kids…
After they’ve been told about or learned of their parents’ separation, they are going to need as much reassurance and love as you can provide them. They may have a lot of questions which is quite common. Always reassure them that as a parent you will always be there to love and care for them. Make sure they understand that the divorce is not their fault as many children have “magical thinking” and believe that if they were just better behaved or did something differently that they could have prevented this from happening.
To the degree possible keep the children’s routine the same as far as school, activities, sports and extracurricular activities. Keep their bedtime consistent so they are getting enough sleep. If one parent has moved out, make sure your children know when they’ll see the other parent and try and establish a schedule for this to happen. Don’t disparage the other spouse as this is detrimental to your children.
During this transition your children may need more down time than normal.
They may be more clingy, emotional, or angry. Accept this from them. Give them one-on-one time with you when possible. They may want to talk about things or simply just be with you or get a hug. Tell them you know that these changes are hard and that it’s okay for them to feel angry, cry, or be upset. Tell them over and over that you love them. Validate their feelings, but don’t keep things heavy all the time. Make sure to do fun things with them too. A special outing or treat can help.
The bottom line is that divorce is a loss and everyone has to go through the grief process when this happens. People and children do recover, adapt and go on to live happy and healthy lives. You can do it too and so can your children.