Divorce is upsetting to everyone involved. Everyone is forced into a new routine and routine that disrupts the “normal” they’re used to. Every divorce situation is different, and every child handles divorce differently. One child can be seemingly unaffected by it while another lashes out and regresses. It’s the parent’s responsibility to pay close attention to your child’s actions and help them navigate through this challenging time. We’ve outlined a few things to keep in mind when trying to help your child through the divorce.
Listen to them
After the initial conversation where you break the news to your child about the divorce, it’s essential to let them express their feelings. Be prepared for them to be confused, hurt, angry, sad, etc. If they take their anger out on you, try not to be angry in return. Tell them that you understand what they’re feeling and that they are valid for feeling that way. This will help your child know that they can feel these different emotions without making you upset.
Ask them about their feelings
Make a habit of regularly checking in with your child and asking them about what they’re feeling. Help them know that it’s safe to talk to you and that you won’t judge how they feel. By doing this, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to you to communicate their concerns and feelings. Letting them know that you’re there for them regardless of the situation will offer comfort and trust.
Kids often blame themselves for their parent’s divorce. It’s important to reassure them that it’s not their fault continuously, so they don’t carry that kind of heavy burden around. On top of this, it’s also important to reassure them that everything will be okay. You can do this without overpromising and under delivering. It’s as simple as saying things like “we’ll figure all of this out!” or “everything will be okay.” Make sure they know that you still love them just as much as you always have and that nothing can change that.
Avoid fighting in front of them
Fighting in front of your child or children can make them think they need to pick a parent or a side. Not only that, but it can be very upsetting to them. Try not to talk badly about your ex-partner in front of your child or do anything that makes them feel like they are the middleman.
Although it might feel like you’re protecting your child by lying to them about the cause of the divorce or the current situation, it does more harm than good. When you are honest about what’s going on when they ask questions, your child will be more inclined to be honest with you when it comes to their feelings and concerns about the divorce. You don’t want your child making up assumptions about the divorce or blaming themselves for everything that’s happened.