Fifty-one percent of marriages end in divorce and that can be tough on children. Child psychologist, Dr. Tanya Gesek has some advice for parents.
First and foremost, she says if a marriage or relationship is bringing consistent and chronic conflict to your family and divorce alleviates the conflict then it is a better option that staying together for the sake of kids. “It’s ultimately not divorce that hurts children, it’s conflict,” says Gesek.
Divorce is a huge transition but dealing with big changes in life can also make children more resilient. While change can be good, keeping as much as you can consistent can also help, like keeping children in the same school district. If things do need to change, giving children as much choice and consideration in the matter will help.
Dr. Gesek also recommends parents reinforce the notion that divorce is not their fault. “Kids are really naive. So they’re going to blame themselves. Like the world revolves around children so it’s not unusual that they start to think that divorce is their fault. And it’s very, very important to make sure that children understand that this is not their fault. That this is nothing they did. You know, parents can fall out of love with each other but parents cannot fall out of love with their children. That is a forever love and that is not going to change. We can’t divorce our children is another important message to send.”
Another important step is to give your children permission to love the other parent. The relationship between you and your significant other is different from the relationship your children and your significant other have.
Along with the do’s, Dr. Gesek has a few don’ts as well. “Do not bad mouth the other parent. There is nothing that will help you in that regard. It will only come back to bite you in the butt in the long run. If your ex is going to dig his or her own hole, let them dig his or her own hole. You do not need to provide any extra fire for that. In fact if your children’s experience with your ex is different than the one you portray to them and the one you verbalize to them it’s only going to make you look bad in the long run,” says Dr. Gesek. “Trash talking is a no-no, a huge no-no.”
For more information or to reach out to Dr. Tanya Gesek visit her online at Facebook.com/TanyaGesekPhD