Choosing to separate from your spouse is a difficult decision, and one not made lightly. After all, there is more impact beyond yourself and your spouse. Both Catholic annulment and civil divorce have ripple effects that impact family and friends, whether they are connected to both of you or just one spouse or the other. While your parents, siblings, or friends may feel the impact of your separation, no one is going to feel the effects more than your children. No matter whether your children are very young or already grown, there is no denying that they will feel the impact of your split. Here is what to consider to help your children handle this process as well as possible.
The Initial Impact
When you and your spouse decide to split, whether you start with a civil divorce or choose to file for annulment at the same time, the initial days and how you handle them will have an immense impact on your children’s lives. It’s important to note that, no, divorce and annulment are not guaranteed to hurt your children. In many cases, your children likely understand, at least to some extent, the level of conflict that has led to separation and the difficult decision to end your marriage. It’s often the case that your children will feel some level of relief upon separation, if only because it reduces the level of conflict they experience at home. However, if you and your spouse keep conflict out of the home, announcing divorce and annulment can be more surprising and jarring.
Understanding this helps you better prepare for how to tell your children of the changes to come. And yes, it is a good idea to tell your children about what’s happening, no matter how old they are. Clear communication is a valuable part of helping your children through the entire divorce and annulment process. It’s a good way to remove as much uncertainty as possible. Discussing an upcoming divorce and annulment with your kids is a good way to clarify what they can expect from the future, give them a chance to ask questions, and — possibly the most important aspect — give them an outlet to experience and process their emotions.
Life for your children will undoubtedly change as divorce and annulment progress. In a real-world way, the separation can mean a new home, a new school, and an overall change in resources and routine. Being hands-on, being available, and creating new routines will help your children shift into their new normal more easily. As we mentioned above, communication is key, and it will continue to be for months to come.
If your children are older, say middle school or high school aged, they may have bigger questions about how their lives will be impacted. For example, teens who are old enough to understand the basics of the Catholic annulment process may have questions about legitimacy or how their life at church may be impacted. It’s important to give your children an outlet for those questions to help them better process everything in a healthy manner and adjust to the changes. Consider discussing your own thoughts through the process; it’s okay to talk about feeling sad or upset, as long as you don’t use that as an opportunity to slander your ex-spouse. You can also arrange for a time to sit down with your church’s priest to give your children another resource for processing everything.
Catholic Annulment Help
Just like you’re taking care of your children through this process, it’s important to take care of yourself mentally/emotionally. The Catholic annulment process doesn’t have to be daunting or complicated. Connect with the compassionate, experienced team at Catholic Annulment - Another Chance for help beginning the annulment process.