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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorneyThe image of the traditional American family has evolved from one of a mother, father, and a child or children, to now include the “blended” family. A large portion of families in the United States are part of a blended situation, which means one spouse is either divorced or widowed with children, and has gone on to remarry someone with a similar past. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 1,300 new stepfamilies form each day. This union creates a “his, hers, and ours” situation that was once only seen in TV comedies like “The Brady Bunch.”

Just because this is more common in today’s society does not make the transition any less awkward at first, nor do all tensions easily conclude with a happy ending as seen on TV. Here are a few tips to make your new family work:

Acknowledge the Children's Relationship With Their Other Parent

Although divorce can have a dramatic effect on children, most studies acknowledge children do well post-divorce if both parents continue their parental roles following the separation, regardless of remarriage. Let the child know the new stepparent will not replace their biological parent, but that it is an extension of their current family.

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divorce, children, Naperville divorce attorneyOne of the biggest concerns couples face when deciding to divorce or not is their children. No loving parent wants to break up their family, and most parents considering divorce worry about the potential negative impacts divorce can have on their children. Will divorce ruin my children’s lives? Will they ever know what love is? Will they be okay splitting time between two homes? In response to these fears, parents in unhappy marriages often choose to stay together for the sake of their children. The reality, however, is that an unhappy home is more damaging for your children than the brief pain of divorce followed by happiness. Divorce, in many cases, is the best choice for your children.

Modeling an Unhappy Relationship

While breaking the news of divorce to children is never easy, and many families struggle through the divorce process and lifestyle change afterwards, choosing to stay together for your children’s sake can be vastly more damaging. If you and your spouse stay married, but fill your home with conflict, that is the picture of marriage you are imprinting on your children. As children grow up, they learn how to model their own relationships based on the relationships they see around them. Children learn what love means by how they are treated, and how they see others in love treat each other. Do you want to model a healthy, loving relationship to your children, or one filled with negativity and conflict? Staying together may keep your family together, but if your marriage is unhealthy, you are teaching your children to accept the same in their lives.

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children of divorce, Naperville family law attorneyDivorce is a challenging process for everyone involved. While you cope with your emotions, your children are processing their own feelings. Parents often feel guilty when it comes to divorce and their children. No, your children most likely did not ask for you and your spouse to separate, and they may struggle during the initial transition time. That does not mean divorce was the wrong decision. Instead of dwelling on guilt, focus on ways to help your children cope with the process and come out feeling loved and supported.

As a parent, you can help your children in a number of ways. You can reassure them, provide as stable a transition as possible, and work through any issues with your ex to ensure your children will continue to have both parents in their lives. All of this on top of dealing with your own emotions can be difficult. Too often, parents prioritize their children over themselves when coping with divorce. While your children do deserve extra support, you can only be your most effective self when you have taken care of you. Remember the saying on an airplane? “Secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” You need to take care of yourself first, so you can be the best parent possible for your children during this challenging time.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

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