Even children who are too young to really understand what is happening will be affected by divorce. They might not be able to talk about it, so it’s important to be prepared for the changes ahead.
Splitting up a family is not only traumatic for the parents; it can also be very troubling for the children involved. It doesn’t matter if you divorce when your children are 2 or 20, there will always be new ground to navigate and new obstacles to overcome.
In this article, we will look at some of the practical considerations you will need to think about when getting divorced with an under-3 in the equation.
How common is divorce for new parents?
According to the statistics, 42% of all marriages end in divorce. Having a young child puts a unique strain on your relationship, and this can lead couples to decide they are better off apart. A new child can lead to financial problems, sleepless nights, a loss of intimacy and increased arguments. So if you have a new child in the house and are heading for a divorce, you’re not alone.
Where will the child live?
As part of the divorce proceedings, you will need to decide where the child will spend their time. You might agree to split custody down the middle, so you have an equal amount of time with the child. Or you might agree that the child will mainly live with one parent and visit the other parent on certain days of the week.
Getting as many details as possible in your custody arrangement will ensure fewer arguments down the line. Think about how you will manage Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Birthdays and other special occasions. In general, both parents will need to learn to be flexible and be willing to make some concessions.
How do you break the news to a child?
You won’t be able to explain the concept of divorce to a toddler, but you can explain that one parent might not be living at home anymore. Try to create a routine as soon as possible to minimise any disruption to the child’s life. You should also expect to encounter some difficult behaviour as the child adjusts to the changes. This might mean taking a few steps back with things like bedwetting or tantrums.
How will the child react?
It’s common for young children to exhibit some challenging behaviour when their parents are going through a divorce. It’s important to reinforce the idea that their parents still love them and that they aren’t going anywhere, they are just living in different places.
If the co-parenting is going well, it’s common for young children to harbour feelings that their parents should live together again. This is an incredibly difficult situation, as you want to present a united front to make sure your child knows they are still loved, but you don’t want to give them false hope.
Make sure you talk about how you will handle this with your ex so that you can both relay the same message to your child. Children may become more clingy as a result of the divorce. They may show reluctance to go to the other parent’s home, which can be very upsetting. Just like any other toddler, they may be testing your boundaries.
How can parents make this easier?
Communication is the key to managing a divorce with young children. If your relationship is too strained to manage this, try keeping a journal which always travels back and forth with the child. Use this to write important notes to the other parent so you can literally stay on the same page.
What about taking a holiday?
When the divorce is complete and you are ready to move on with your life, it can be tempting to take a trip to kick start your new life. If you are travelling with your child abroad, remember that you may need written permission from the other parent.
Rules vary around the world, but in the UK, you have to have written permission from the other parent to travel. The other parent should also have complete details about where you are going, which flights you will be taking, and when you plan to return. You can find out more about this by heading to https://www.brookman.co.uk/.