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How-to: Help Kids Understand Divorce: Difficult Talks

Every child is going to react differently when learning that their parents are getting a divorce. Of course, the age that a child is at will determine their understanding of what is going on. In some families, the children may be very aware of what is going on. In other instances, the parents may hide all of their disagreements from their kids. While every situation will be different, there are a few tips that can help kids understand divorce.

How-to Help Kids Understand Divorce: Preparing for the Talk

Planning For It

The best way to help kids understand divorce is to talk about it. Part of how a child will react will be based on how the parents tell their children that they are getting a divorce. Parents should put thought and consideration into how, when, and where they break the news to their children. It may be helpful to have the entire family meet together as a family so that the parents can answer the children’s questions. In this type of setting, there will be less opportunity for parents to blame the other for the divorce.

Make sure to plan a family meeting to have this big conversation. Go ahead and think through and plan out what is going to be said at this meeting. Parents should do their best to stay calm during this conversation. It will be best to plan to have a follow-up meeting to answer any further questions and address concerns.

Things to Say

Children often find divorce hard to understand. In order to help kids understand divorce, keep the initial conversation to the basics. Otherwise, it could get very overwhelming and confusing. The most important thing is for kids to know that their basic needs are still going to be met. They will also want reassurance that they will be able to continue a relationship with both parents if that is something that is possible.

Kids may not understand that a divorce is final, so that is something parents need to discuss so that kids do not have false hopes. It is easy for children to think that it is their fault that their parents are getting a divorce. Parents need to reassure kids that this is not their fault.

Listen

In order to help kids understand divorce, it is important to listen to their questions and concerns. Children will have worries about how their life will change, and parents need to be mindful of that. By listening to kid’s concerns and questions will show that the parents care. Parents should not be alarmed if they have to answer questions and give reassurance many times during this process. Also, parents should ask children about their fears and concerns, so that the parents show the kids that they care. It also shows kids that it is okay to be open about those feelings.

Telling kids about divorce is never easy. There are ways to help kids understand divorce. Once they understand it, it will help the transition process to hopefully be a bit smoother.

How-to: Reconcile with Your Ex After Divorce

Some divorcees never speak to one another again after the divorce is finalized. Other divorcees may be cordial to their exes. However, there are occasional cases where exes actually get back together after their divorce. This could happen over months, or even years, after the split. If the problems in your divorce are reversible, then with some hard work and time, there is a chance you could reconcile with your ex after divorce.

How-to: Reconcile with Your Ex After Divorce: Mending Broken Bonds

Reconciliation

Reconciliation does not always mean that you will remarry your ex. It could also just mean moving towards a friendly relationship and moving past your anger and hurt. While it may take time to reconcile with your ex, it is possible to do. Not everyone wants to live their life feeling bitter and angry for the rest of their lives. It is not uncommon for someone to still even be in love with their ex. Divorce gives people space and distance to really think and envision their lives. They may even be able to see workable solutions to the problems that caused them to split in the first place.

Communication

If you want to reconcile with your ex, first start by trying to increase communication with them. However, do not harass them. Instead, make sure that they want to communicate with you too. Have open, honest communication with them. If you think that your divorce was a mistake, they may also feel the same way.

In the same way that you did when you first started dating, show interested in your ex and the things they are involved in. Talk through the revelations you have made about your relationship, and tell them the things you are doing to work towards making positive changes.

Move Slowly

Remember that there were reasons that you and this person ended up getting divorced in the first place. These issues are not just going to instantly vanish overnight. This is why you should proceed cautiously and carefully. Sure, this could be a new beginning, but you can not forget that you also have a history that needs to be addressed. Carefully consider this, and work towards a resolution together.

It is a good idea to see a counselor or therapist in this situation. You should try and work on the traits, habits, and emotions that may have contributed or led to the marital issues in the first place. Additionally, you should talk to a couples therapist together. This third-party can help determine if it is a good idea for you to get back together. If not, they can also help you come to terms with the divorce as well.

Marriage Annulment: It Never Happened

It is difficult to get a marriage annulment, but there are some situations that allow for it. This is different from a divorce, because it completely cancels the marriage. For example,  a divorce declares that a marriage happened and is now over. On the other hand, an annulment declares that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid.

Marriage Annulment: What It Is

Reasons

There are not many reasons someone would be able to go through with a marriage annulment. However, there are several situations that do potentially allow for it. An example would be if one spouse is forced, or coerced, into getting married. Or, if one spouse lied about something that was essential to the marriage. Examples include things such as mental health issues or impotency. Bigamy is when someone gets married while they are already married to someone else. This is another cause for an annulment. 

Another reasons would be if one spouse younger than the legal age of marriage. Keep in mind, this is only if they don’t have their parent’s consent. Other examples are incest, mental incompetence and never living together. No cohabitation means that the married couple has never lived together.

Alternative Options

Most people do not qualify for a marriage annulment. If you are not eligible for this, you still have options. If you do not meet the requirements for an annulment, you will have to file for divorce. Before making this decision, you can speak with a lawyer. 

Differences by States

Many states have different rules and laws regarding a marriage annulment. States may vary in what they view as a prohibited marriage. They also have different laws about the time limits with annulments. There are websites that have a different laws around annulments and prohibited marriages by state. 

Impact

A marriage annulment voids a marriage completely. Thee impact will be different than that of a divorce. This will affect spousal support and the division of assets. After an annulment, you are single and never married. This is unlike divorce, where it leads to someone being single and divorced. 

While marriage annulments are rare, some people are able to get one. You should now understand what an annulment is, and what the grounds are for being able to get one. Also, you now know the impact of going through this process.

How-to Bond with Stepchildren: Blended Families

Being a stepparent can be both rewarding and tricky. As a new stepparent, you are going to want to create a bond with your new stepchildren. Do not be surprised if it takes a new stepchild a while to warm up to you. At the same time, do not let this slow warming-up period think it will never get better. Keep working at it, and things will turn around. It will just take some time and some patience as they adjust to this changing dynamic.

How-to Bond with Stepchildren: Relationship Building

Spend Quality Time Together

As with any relationship, you have to spend time together to form a bond with stepchildren. Plan to do fun, special things with your stepchildren. Start by asking them what types of activities they like to do. By doing something that they already enjoy, they may have a more positive experience. Make sure you are spending good, quality time with them and that you are actually engaging. For example, sitting in the corner, distracted, on the phone will not show the kids that you want to interact with them. If you try to make these fun activities a routine, your stepchildren will start looking forward to spending time with you. 

Understand Their Frustrations

Do your best to be patient with your stepchildren and understand their frustrations. For instance, you should listen to them, and hear what they have to say. Just as it took time for you to adjust to a new relationship, it will take the kid’s time as well. Also, keep in mind that you were able to choose your new partner. Remember that they did not have as much say in the situation. They will likely express their frustration at that at some points as you build your bond with stepchildren.

Get Involved in Their Life

Do things that show your stepchildren that you care about them. Go to their game, play, recital, or another event they are involved in. For instance, ask them questions, and make sure to seem genuinely interested. Try and learn about the things that they participate in. Show interest in them and what they care about. Do your best to be supportive of them as well. One tip would be to offer to drive them to their practice or activity. This would show you care about something they are a part of and also will give you some good one-on-one time with them.

Treat Them Like Your Own Kids

If you make your stepchildren feel like they’re just an extra thing you have to carry around, they will start to resent you. Keep in mind that these kids have just gone through some big changes, and likely just had some sad experiences. For example, try introducing them as your kids, instead of step kids, so that they feel included. You definitely do not want them to feel like they are not really part of the family. Additionally, that includes not showing favoritism towards any biological kids you may have. The best way to do this is by treating them as if they were your own kids. 

At the same time, do not try to replace their actual parents. Your role is not to replace their mom or dad, but to be a stepparent. Your role is special and does not have to compete with their biological parents. Also, be candid with your stepchildren and tell them that this is all new for you too.

Although it may feel like it is taking a while, do not give up. Just make sure you are showing interest in your stepchildren and their lives, being patient and understanding, and treating them as one of your own. Over time, these steps will help you form a strong bond between yourself and your stepchildren. 

Stepparent Discipline: What’s Acceptable?

One of the trickiest things to navigate if you remarry and create a blended family is stepparent discipline. Co-parenting comes in many forms and this is absolutely one of them that takes a bit of adjustment. After all, you want to both be a good parent, but also don’t want them to resent you. Striking that balance can be hard, but you can make it easier by using the right techniques…

Stepparent Discipline: Do It Right

Let your spouse take the lead

When it comes to stepparent discipline, the stepparent shouldn’t be taking the lead initially. During those early months, your stepchild may not fully respect your authority. Therefore, when you do try and discipline them, they’ll either ignore you or get even worse. That’s why you want your partner to take control.

It’s good to let your spouse handle discipline at first. They’ll be more experienced, and your stepchild will hold more respect for what they say. You can try to talk to them in a positive manner when they’re misbehaving and see if they stop. But if they don’t, then let your partner take over.

Don’t be too harsh

When it comes time to implement some stepparent discipline, it’s important to not go to far. Being too harsh on your stepchild will cause them to view you as mean and hurt your relationship. Adjusting to being a stepparent can be hard and you may be a bit stressed. Still, you don’t want that to come out in your punishments.

Your punishments should ideally fit with what your stepchild has done wrong. For example, if they were being mean to someone else, you shouldn’t ground them for a week. Instead, explain why what they did was wrong and send them to their room to calm down. When they don’t feel like they’re being punished unfairly, kids tend to better understand why what they did was wrong.

Hear them out

An important part of stepparent discipline is giving your stepchild a chance to tell their side of things. Much like you have, they too have been going through a lot of change. Not only did they have to deal with their parents divorcing, but now they must adjust to a “new” family. This can bring up a lot of emotions and make them act out in response.

However, by giving them a chance to talk, you can better understand how they feel. That way, you can see why they may be acting a certain way. Instead of punishing them, encourage them to talk to you and use it as a chance to help them and improve your bond.

How-to: Battle Divorce Loneliness in Quarantine

Divorce or separation can be an extremely difficult time for most. Granted, there are a select few where the main feeling you will have is relief. But, the majority of people will go through some of the stages of grief. This is quite common and there are plenty of ways to manage it, but in the age of COVID… how can you battle divorce loneliness while also maintaining social distance and safety for yourself and others? In a time when isolation is not only encouraged, but essential, how do you get through this difficult time? 

How-to: Battle Divorce Loneliness during Quarantine

Get comfortable in your own spaces and with yourself 

While it isn’t ideal that you have to spend all of this time alone with your thoughts, it can be important in facing the sobering reality of your situation and working through it. No matter how much of a distraction you have in normal times, there will still come a point in time where you have to come face to face with how you’re feeling and begin to work through it. So, while this can be a difficulty it can also work to your advantage in battling divorce loneliness and getting more comfortable with time to yourself. 

Consider virtual therapy sessions 

While facing the music has to come at some point, doing so alone is not always easy, possible, or advisable. That’s where a licensed professional might become essential to you. While in-person therapy sessions might be difficult to come by, virtual therapy sessions are a great option while still maintaining your health and safety. In fact, your insurance likely covers mental health for online or in-person sessions. Divorce loneliness can be crippling, but with the right resources— you will be able to face these difficulties and move forward in the best way possible. 

Utilize Facetime, Skype, Zoom or other means of virtual connectivity 

Isolation can be difficult for anyone, but you don’t have to be isolated fully. In this day and age, you have options for connecting with the people you love without stepping into their spaces. A video app allows for connecting with your loved ones outside of a phone call or a text message. Furthermore, consider joining some sort of Facebook group. There are plenty of different groups that focus on different things, such as divorce loneliness. Look at options that appeal to you— ones about divorce, single parenting, grieving divorce, or so forth. Find what works for you specifically and talk to people who understand exactly what you’re going through. We wish you a safe and healthy holiday season as you heal through this difficult time.