When divorce hits a family, every member of the house feels a terrible sense of loss and anxiety. This is more so in the case of kids who are confused about the dynamics of relationships and are tongue-tied when expressing their feelings.
Scientific studies have shown that children exposed to parental conflicts are at a high risk of suffering from emotional and behavioral issues. Therefore, it is important that divorced couples pay special heed to their kids during this period, encouraging them to adjust over time.
Your divorce can be extremely unsettling for your child. Use the tips shared below to help your youngster deal with this distressing situation.
1) First Things First: Get Hold of Your Emotions
The first few months after the divorce can be extremely overwhelming, causing you to feel edgy and cry or lose cool over small matters. However, your emotional outbursts are unhealthy for your kid.
Allow yourself to be supported by family and friends, and involve a responsible adult to help you manage your kid. Develop a hobby or join the local gym to beat the stress and take charge of your life.
If you find it tough to open up to your close ones, turn to a therapist who can offer you advice and emotional support. It is important that you feel supported and self-assured first so you can raise a confident and happy child.
2) Have an Open Conversation with Your Child
Informing your kid about the divorce is the first step towards enabling him/her adjust to this life-changing event.
Whenever possible, explain the situation to your child in an uncomplicated manner. For instance, you can say, “Ethan, mummy and I argue most of the time, making everyone sad. Hence, we have decided to live in separate houses so everyone is happy.”
Having said this, tell your child that you and your ex will continue to love and support him/her. Create a weekly chart to explain the new arrangement and reassure him/her that his/her time with parents will not be compromised.
Kids are usually self-seeking and perceptive. They believe that every situation is related to them. Consequently, your child may feel that he/she is the reason for the conflict between you and your ex. Make sure he/she knows that your separation has nothing to do with him/her.
Ideally, you and your ex should team up to share the news with your child; however, remember not to fight or argue in front of the little one. Child psychologists have long known the impact of parental relationship on a child’s wellbeing. Fighting in the presence of your kid can cause him/her to feel insecure, thereby hampering his/her emotional development.
3) Encourage Him/Her to Ask Questions
Anger and disappointment are healthy emotional reactions that must be encouraged and handled prudently by parents. Moreover, your child is entitled to expressing his/her feelings without worrying that it may upset you.
Thus, when he/she opens up to you, don’t downplay his/her emotions. Be patient with extreme reactions like crying and yelling. Reassure you kid by saying, “We understand you are sad/angry about daddy and me living apart. We are always around to talk when you want. We can get past this.” Saying this will reassure your youngster and allow him/her to steadily adjust to the change.
If you have a teenager, chances are that he/she already has a friend in his/her circle whose parents are divorced. In such cases, you may assume your youngster is already aware of what divorce means. Yet, you should chat with him/her about this topic, encourage questions, and provide honest answers.
4) Respect Your Child’s Relationship with the Other Parent
Post your divorce, you and your ex will probably find it difficult to bear the sight of each other. Yet, it is important to keep your personal feelings aside and demonstrate respect towards your ex. After all, he/she is also your child’s parent.
Use respectful language when talking to or about your ex. Avoid bad mouthing him/her as this will manipulate your kid’s feelings and place him/her in a loyalty conflict, thereby coaxing him/her to make a choice between loving you or your ex.
Furthermore, your child’s time with the other parent should be your priority. It is normal to feel lonely or jealous about your child spending time with someone you detest. However, it is important to respect the relationship they share.
Avoid interfering with your ex’s parenting time. For instance, don’t make your kid choose between spending time with the other parent and doing a fun activity with you.
5) Create New Family Traditions
When life doesn’t seem the same to you and your youngster, make a conscious effort to introduce new enjoyable family traditions. For instance, talk to your spouse if you can agree on celebrating your kid’s birthday together every year.
Similarly, at Christmas, you can introduce a new tradition of allowing your kid to open presents on two occasions with each parent, one on Christmas Eve and the other the following morning.
Introducing such fun traditions will gradually help you kid adjust to the ‘new normal’.
6) Get Professional Help
Involving a neutral third party to assist you with co-parenting after your divorce can be worthwhile.
Psychologists play a critical role in offering support and guidance to divorced parents in raising self-assured kids. Consult a therapist who can help you identify the physical, mental, and psycho-social well-being of your child and enhance his/her capacity to cope with the family changes.
Furthermore, several child-custody-related issues may crop up even after your divorce. These disputes may result in unnecessary mental chaos for your child. Therefore, it is important to consult a family law attorney who can help protect your kid from emotionally-hurtful situations.
For instance, a family law attorney in Wheaton, IL who focuses solely on the state’s divorce and family laws can help separated parents in and around the city with child support and custody while keeping the kids’ best interest in mind.
Divorce disrupts the lives of all the members of a family, including kids. In fact, kids often find it hard to understand why the two most important adults in their lives decide to part ways. This change can cause them much pain and trauma.
Parents play a critical role in managing their kids during this tough period. If you have recently gone through a divorce, the tips shared in this article will guide you in helping your youngster adjust to this change in the family.