Yes! Your children WILL be affected by your divorce. Truth is virtually every major thing you do, whether it is to change careers, stay married or even become more observant will affect them. The question is not one of whether they will be affected but a question of how, and that is at least partially up to you.
Turning conventional wisdom on its head, in order to mitigate the impact of the divorce on your children, you have to take care of yourself. Broken, rejected and hurt, the message inherent in the divorce is going to be negative. However if you are able to heal yourself from the loss, you will be able to teach your children to do the same. You will provide them with the model and means to recover from this and any future losses, which they are almost guaranteed to experience.
Aside from this, it is important that you also consider what lessons you would like to teach your child, what you would want them to grow up with. Lessons of self-respect remain key, no matter what happens in life, so explore whether the way you are managing and what you are telling your child reflects this.
Remember to treat yourself with self-respect during the divorce, and establish a clear expectation of mutual respect with your soon- to- be ex. I know this is not always possible but know within yourself how you will handle unacceptable communication or actions. Firm boundaries will not only allow you to hold your head up high, but will hopefully prevent the children from becoming pawns in the process.
Leave it to the professionals. Unfortunately where you can’t is where the price of divorce increases. But rather the financial costs than the emotional ones. Leave the fighting to the lawyers, let them engage in rhetoric around issues, and where you cannot communicate, civilly defer to them.
As for your children, talk to them and be alert to their concerns. Therapy is not always necessary but if you are emotionally not in a position to support your children, or if they would be more comfortable with someone who is not entrenched in the battle, it may well be a consideration.
Remember the message: Relationships do end, (with the exception of parent child relationships which are sacred and for life), and sometimes you have to end them. Mourning the loss is appropriate and is part of the healing process. Self-respect is something you owe yourself.
MA Psych (Counselling) University of Pretoria.