Divorce is obviously a stressful and unpleasant time for everyone involved. But how many parents stop to ask “how can I help my child through divorce?”
Parents spend a lot of time hashing out details of the divorce. Financial decisions have to be made, material possessions have to be divided, and custody arrangements have to be established. Throughout this turbulent time, please don’t overlook your child’s elevated emotional needs. You might be asking “how can I help my child through divorce?”
Let’s start with breaking the news to your child. This is best done together if at all possible. You should be honest and frank with your child, with an awareness of maturity and developmental level, of course. Encourage your child to ask questions about the divorce and be supportive.
And make sure your child knows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it was not his fault. So often, the answer to the question “how can I help my child through divorce?” involves making 100% sure that he knows that the divorce was due to disagreement between his parents, not something that he did. A common theme child counselors address in child counseling for divorce is helping the child to understand it’s not his fault.
Next, always encourage your child to express feelings and communicate openly with both parents. Open communication goes a long way to prevent emotional damage often caused by a heated divorce.
Here are 4 Specific Tips for Parents who ask – “How can I help my child through Divorce?”
- Try to minimize, or ideally eliminate altogether, conflict and arguments between you and your soon to be ex-spouse. Along these same lines, don’t talk about the legal and financial parts of the divorce where your child can hear you. These things are for adult ears only and only serve to make the already difficult transition harder on your child.
- Never blame or point the finger at your soon to be ex. However mad you may be at your ex, always remember that your child still loves and cares very much for him or her. Your child’s emotional well-being can be negatively impacted if you play the “blame game” or otherwise badmouth your ex.
- Maintain a consistent schedule for your child as much as possible. Things will be chaos, of course, but try the best you can to keep as much of your child’s routine stable as possible. If you always go to Church on Wednesday night, make every effort to continue this throughout the divorce process and beyond. If you always eat breakfast out on Saturday morning, do your best to keep it up.
- Make sure your child gets to see both you and his other parent frequently. No matter how angry you are, please, PLEASE, never use your child to get even or hurt your ex! This ends up harming the most vulnerable person involved in the nasty situation- your child. Early on, try to establish and maintain some type of routine with visitation so your child has frequent contact with not just one, but both parents.
Try to apply these guidelines as closely as possible and you will be taking a big step toward helping your child through a divorce. If you follow these and your child still seems to be struggling emotionally, socially or behaviorally, we would be happy to help. Child Counseling and Family Counseling can provide professional support as you learn effective co-parenting strategies and search for answers to the question “how can I help my child through divorce?”
Contact us today to schedule a Free Consultation to see how we can help support your family during a divorce.