Divorce is hard for the entire family, but it’s especially difficult for children. Even if they don’t admit to how they’re feeling, the chances are high they’re experiencing a range of negative emotions, including shock, sadness, anger, fear, resentment, and even guilt.
Research has made clear that divorce, especially contentious ones, can have a far-reaching negative impact on children’s behavior and mental health. According to the Subordinate Court’s profile analysis of divorced couples, children of divorce in Singapore are more likely to have poor school performance and exhibit delinquent behavior. The Ministry of Social and Family Development notes that many kids may withdraw and suffer from low self-esteem.
Fortunately, it is possible to reduce the negative impact of the divorce by making your children’s well-being your top priority. Here are four things you can do:
1. Give them frequent reassurance.
Many children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce and worry that their parents will stop loving them. Try to assure them that although life will change, you both love them as much as before, and that this is one aspect of their lives that will never change.
2. Stay involved in their lives.
Continue to do many of the activities that you did with your children before the divorce. Help them with their homework, go to the movies, play their favorite games, or make their favorite meals. Above all, talk to them about how they’re feeling and about the daily happenings of their lives. Help them to understand that although their family unit is changing, they aren’t losing their parents.
3. Don’t include the children in your disputes.
Even if you and your former spouse are furious with one another, leave the children out of any fights or disagreements. The children should never be a go-between to deliver messages between you and your ex-spouse, nor should you talk badly about your children’s other parent. Children put in the middle of a dispute between their parents makes them feel as if they must choose sides, which adds to their stress and feelings of unhappiness.
4. Join post-divorce support programs.
Support groups and parenting programmes groups can be instrumental in helping both parents and children of divorce cope with their new situation. Such groups allow you to meet others in similar circumstances, learn different methods of helping children deal with the divorce, and discuss the various issues that can arise. Divorcing parents in Singapore have many options for both online and face-to-face support, including the Mandatory Parenting Programme.
Divorce becomes all the more complicated when there are disagreements relating to child custody and visitation rights. Singapore divorce lawyers have seen first-hand how high emotions can run when it comes to these issues. But parents can make life less stressful for their children by letting go of any feelings of hurt or revenge, and keeping the best interests of their children the highest priority when considering custody and visitation issues. There are a few different types of custody arrangements:
Joint custody with visitation. This means that you share custody with the other parent but make all decisions together that may affect the child. Both parents must agree to the visitation schedule.
Sole custody with visitation. In this circumstance, one parent makes most of the decisions and does not need the other parent’s approval.
Shared custody is where the child’s time is split evenly between both parents. Both parents are responsible for all decisions, and neither parent is considered residential.
READ MORE: Child Custody, Access and the Welfare Principle, 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Engaging A Good Divorce Lawyer
Your divorce lawyer can help you think through these various options. But regardless as to what type of custody agreement is decided, the children are the ones who will be the most affected by this decision. In deciding which arrangement to pursue, try to assess which arrangement would be best for your children with as much honesty as possible. If you need it, ask for help from a family counselor, specializing in divorce.
Child support is another serious issue that can cause much emotional turmoil. Sometimes people want to hurt their soon-to-be ex and battle over child maintenance and support. But under the Women’s Charter, section 68, “It shall be the duty of a parent to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of his or her children…” This remains a parental responsibility no matter the terms of the custody arrangement.
Although the issue can be complicated, try to keep your children’s financial needs first in mind when considering disagreements over this tense issue. The top divorce lawyers in Singapore will be sensitive to these concerns and skilled to handle them.
In the end, it is crucial that parents help their children adjust to all the changes that divorce brings and address any behavioral or psychological problems the moment they arise. Moreover, despite their own emotional pain, parents must try their best to make decisions in a way that will lessen their children’s suffering. It can be extremely difficult but you’ll serve your children well in the long-run.