Reconciling After A Divorce? Think About The Kids

child watching parents have a discussion

Most children of divorce secretly (or not so secretly) hope their parents will get back together. And according to recent statistics, about 10 percent of all married couples have separated and reconciled. In fact, rumors have recently circulated that Jon and Kate Gosselin may be reconciling (rumors that Jon emphatically denies) But while having the family reunited as it used to be may seem like a perfect resolution to many children, reunifications can be difficult for everyone involved. How can you navigate those tricky waters?

Know It Won't Be Smooth Sailing
If you and your ex are thinking about getting back together, are seeing each other or have moved back in with each other, it may be a difficult adjustment for the children, even if this is the fulfillment of their wishes. Couples who reconcile often have a lot of issues to work out. This may mean going to counseling together, or simply spending months working through their problems.

In fact, reconciliation can sometimes involve a lot of starts and stops: you're together today but, tomorrow, you think it's a bad idea. Then, two weeks later, you spend the night together. And so on. The bumps in the road that you experience may feel like giant craters to your children because they are extremely emotionally invested in whether or not you reconcile.

Take It Slowly
The best thing you and your ex can do is take things slowly. Don't immediately move back in together. Take your time to consider whether or not this reconciliation will work, and if it's what you really want. Getting back together and then splitting again can be very painful for your children. Don't do it until you're sure.

And don't assume that everything will be peachy this time. The problems you had before have not disappeared, even if you are both on your best behavior. You need to find solutions or work-arounds for the problems that brought your relationship to an end the first time. This may mean confronting things together, and actively trying to find compromises and solutions that will allow you to live together happily.

Help Your Children Through It
If you and your ex start to see each other again, try very hard not to get your children's hopes up. Don't tell them you're getting back together until it's a done deal. Instead, let them know that their parents will always communicate and try to be friendly with each other. Stress that you can be friends after getting divorced, and emphasize that that is what you're doing. While it's fine for you to hope things will work, allowing your children to think that it will—and then crushing their hopes—is too dangerous a game. 

RELATED: 3 Tough Lessons I Learned From My Parents' Divorce

Once you make the firm decision to reunite, talk about it with your children. Make it clear that you have decided to try this again, and that there are no guarantees you will be together forever. This can be hard for children to understand, but you owe it to them not to make promises that you don't know if you can keep.

Understand That Some Kids May React Negatively
There are some children who do react negatively to the idea of their parents getting back together. Teenagers often are very careful to have their defenses up, because they don't want to get hurt again. As a result, they may act as if they aren't happy about the reconciliation. Also, if the teen has a rocky relationship with one parent (often the parent he or she sees as being at fault for the divorce or breakup), the teen may not be very welcoming to that parent. In situations like these, you can insist on respect, but you cannot insist that your child embrace the reunification wholeheartedly. All you can do is give it time, and encourage your child to be tolerant and patient. Be honest about the fact that you are all human, and that each of us does the best he or she can.

Have you been through a divorce, only to later reconcile? How did you manage the experience for your children?