10 Tips for Helping your Children Cope with your Divorce
Divorce is a tough time for everyone involved. It’s especially hard on children because they experience so many different emotions at such a young age. Feelings of sadness, loss, pain, anger, confusion, guilt, abandonment and withdrawal are sadly all too common from children of divorcees. Here are a couple of tips to help children cope with this dramatic change in their family situation.
Encourage them to communicate – Divorce is a trying time for both adults when emotions run wild and sometimes get the better of both adults. This can sometimes make children not feel like voicing their thoughts because of fear that it will make the situation worse. Listen to your child whenever he/she tells you something and try to encourage creative ways of communication. Simply spending time with each parent makes a world of difference to children.
Let them know that it’s okay if they talk to the other parent – Even if you can’t stand your ex, it doesn’t make it okay to make your children feel bad when they’d like to have a word with their other parent. Encourage them to call your ex up whenever they have an achievement they’d like to share or simply just to chat.
Behave as amicably as possible – No matter the circumstances of your divorce, children suffer when they see hostility between their parents. Make an effort to keep things as civil and as peaceful as possible.
Let your children know that they can depend on you – Do this by showing your children that you’re reliable rather than telling them they can depend on you. If you are constantly late or tardy, it makes your children feel rejected and unimportant which can create a host of psychological issues for them.
Talk to the school – Teachers spend a huge chunk of the day with your kids. Letting them know about the divorce lets them understand the situation if your child displays any odd behaviors. This also lets them make special arrangements in sensitive situations.
Keep your dating life personal – Unless you are in a serious relationship or are getting hitched, separate your dating life and parenting life. Children form attachments much easier and faster than adults. If the relationship fizzles out and the person disappears the child gets confused as they experience yet another loss.
Your child is a child, remember that – Do not use your child as emotional support. While children of divorcees do grow faster than their counterparts, they are still children and treating them like adults is not right.
Break the news to your children together – In the best case scenario, both parents should be present for that first conversation with the children. Let them know that there will be two homes that they will be loved in and that each of you will continue to be in their lives. Emphasize that this was a decision between the two of you and that it had nothing to do with them or anything that they did. Let them know that it isn’t their fault.
Tell them what will happen in their lives, not what will happen in yours – Try to see how the divorce will affect the children through their eyes and reassure them that both of you will always love and protect them.
Help them navigate their feelings – Let your children know that their feelings are normal and that they will feel better with time. Try finding outlets for your children to channel their emotions so that they don’t sit thinking about the situation with all of that energy that children are notorious for. Outlets can include anything from martial arts to theatre to football.
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