Most parents who have gone through a divorce can probably attest to the concern they felt for their children and how the separation would affect them. If you find yourself in the middle of a divorce and fear for the well-being of your children, please know that you are not alone, and please know that being aware and prepared are two of the best things you can do to help your children through the process. Thus, this blog series is focused on how divorce affects children of different ages, and what we can do to help combat any negative experiences for them. This blog will focus on preschool aged children.
Preschool Aged Children
There are two things you should understand about your pre-schooled child: they are still inherently self-focused, and their parents are their world. Knowing this can help you understand how they may view a divorce, as well as how they will react.
When you tell your preschooler that you’re getting divorced, you need to understand how you’re shifting their world. If two parents together is their ideal, then suggesting anything else likely will feel hugely heartbreaking for them. And while this will hurt to see as a parent, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be okay, and it doesn’t mean that the process has to be hard the whole way through. It’s important that you prioritize parenting time with both you and your ex to be able to spend time with the child. If they feel that, despite the divorce, they will still get ample time with both parents, they may be able to adapt relatively quickly. Because of their dependency on their parents at this age, seeing each parent multiple times throughout the week is more beneficial then going a week or two with just one parent.
In addition to this, because preschoolers are inherently self-focused, there’s a chance that they may blame themselves for the split or feel responsible, similar to a toddler. They are certainly old enough to feel the burden of a divorce, but aren’t quite old enough to be able to see past themselves when trying to piece together the “why” behind the separation. Because of this, it’s so important that you open up a line of communication between you and your preschooler. While they may not be able to reason through the divorce by themselves, they are generally receptive to the ideas that you present to them. Your sound reasoning is important for their own processing.
During this time, it’s possible that your preschooler may keep their anger locked inside, which is why communication, and encouraging them to open up and talk, is helpful. They also may have nightmares and a hard time sleeping due to internal processing. To help combat this, set aside devoted time for them each day. Find an activity that you enjoy doing together and commit to that time.
The attorneys at Pacific Cascade Legal understand how difficult this time can be for a family. To the best of your ability, focus on maintaining a schedule for your preschooler, and prioritize parenting time weekly so that your child can have time with both Mom and Dad. Remember that no matter how challenging it is in the moment, children are adaptable—what they want more than anything is to be loved and supported, which can absolutely be done from separate households.