Dear Karen Kaye,

I am going through a divorce and my fears are overwhelming. Please guide me in how I should care for myself and my children emotionally, while I am going through a divorce.

Thank you,

Dear Samantha,

The fears you are feeling are a natural response to what might have been an unnatural ending. It is closing the door to the “known,” while entering the “unknown.” Although uncomfortable, this can be an “awakening” for your life. Through the discomfort and questioning, clarity will emerge. What is causing your pain now, once learned, will be the foundation toward a new and improved you. I would suggest seeking professional help in this transition period. You will learn about yourself and your patterns with relationships that can change your course to a more positive outcome. “This time of your life can make or break you.” This is the type of pain that can ultimately motivate you to deeper awareness and identify destructive patterns. This will result in you feeling more complete and whole as you learn to live in your own skin. Remember, you are the keeper of your soul and spirit; no one can take them from you.

I would suggest that you give yourself at least 6 months or more for intense evaluation. You will begin to lay your new foundation, one good decision at a time. This is a life-changing event in you and your children’s lives. Some children may need professional help – an adult who is unbiased in their life while Mom and Dad may not be emotionally available. I would suggest that children over the age of 8 years old, physically be present in the counseling. Younger children need not attend therapy. Instead, their parents need to be in counseling to acquire the proper skills to help their children. The following are the most pertinent points for parents, both during and after a divorce.

Children Need:

1. To be taken out of the middle; they are not the ones getting divorced.
2. All decisions are made for the emotional, mental, physical health and well-being of the child (The proper professional, like a therapist or lawyer needs to be consulted for these decisions).
3. Keep the child’s life structured; and if possible, the child’s environment intact.
4. Prepare children for the changes that will occur and how they will be handled, using age-appropriate truthful wording.
5. Do not speak poorly of the other parent – that puts children in the middle.
6. Do not use your children as your support system – you are there to support them.
7. Handle your emotions and anger with a trained professional. Know that how you react will directly affect how your children will react. They will look to you as a role model. It is okay to show emotions. How long it takes you to progress is pertinent. (This is a journey where some emotional movement should take place within 3 to 6 months.)
8. Allow your children their feelings, which may be different from yours.
9. A child deserves at least one stable parent and a grounded home environment.
10. Keep in mind this is your child’s only chance for a childhood. Shield them when possible, but do not lie or fib to them.

All the best,
Karen Kaye, LMHC