Making the decision to get a divorce when you have young children is very difficult. Generally having young children is a time when you should be celebrating the start of your lives as a family and you may have many friends who are beaming with joy in their marriages and with their new families.
However, there are many reasons why couples with young children choose to divorce. Young children induce a lack of sleep, a change in routine, a change in priorities and can limit sex drives. Therefore it may be the new arrivals that highlight irreconcilable differences between a couple that were otherwise brushed under the carpet.
For each parent the divorce will be very daunting, as custody and finances are suddenly of the utmost importance. It can be devastating to be separated from your young children and it can be equally devastating to have a sudden financial burden placed upon you.
When it comes to helping the children through the divorce it is tempting to think that they won’t need the same care and explanations as an older child and that they will be too young to notice what is going on. However, even very young children will be affected by the situation and will need extra care, attention and reassurance to ensure that they are not upset by what is going on.
One of the most important things is to avoid fighting in front of young children. They will be frightened and upset by raised voices and tension and they will not understand what is going on. Equally it is vital never to speak badly of the other spouse in front of a young child, as this can lead to damaged relationships with both parents.
Explain things to your children as much as you can in a way that they will understand. Children are very quick to blame themselves when things go wrong and this must be avoided. Equally they can blame the remaining spouse for the other parent moving out and can start to exhibit a lot more love towards the absent parent, to try and win them back. This can be upsetting for the parent who feels like they are doing the lion’s share of the parenting.
Young children can not express how they feel in the same way as older children. That is why when you are going through your separation you have to look out for more physical symptoms. Feeling poorly for no reason, bed wetting, insomnia, bad dreams and tantrums are all signs that your child is being affected.
Talk to your child’s school or nursery to explain the situation so that they can also look out for any signs that your child is suffering and offer your child extra support. If you are worried then you can talk to your GP or see a counsellor to help you and your child through the difficult months.