Divorce introduces a tremendous change in the life of a child.
For most children, divorce will be the first major crisis of their lives.
It turns a child’s life upside down. How, and to what extent this happens, varies among different families. Young children may not be old enough to fully understand divorce or what it means.
Regardless of their age, helping your kids navigate life after divorce is critical.
Adjustments to changes resulting from divorce, like going back and forth between households, the daily absence of one parent while living with the other, new step parents and potentially new siblings need time, and that time is different for everyone.
Here are a few ways you can help your kids after divorce:
- Find new ways to be good parents and co-parents despite the many changes and challenges of parenting apart. Your children need clear, consistent, loving, authoritative parenting. You are former partners now, but you are still parents.
- Never speak negatively about your ex in front of your child. Putting your child in the middle of your conflicts leads to a feeling that loving both parents is not ok.
- Help your child to grieve. The grieving for the life that he or she once knew begins now. It is normal and healthy to grieve. It hurts to see your child in emotional pain, but it hurts them if you do not allow them to express their own painful feelings.
Every child needs to have the sense that even though things have changed, one remains constant: their parents will always be Mom and Dad even though they are no longer husband and wife.
When they feel secure in that, they can shift the focus of their daily lives back to where it belongs: on being a kid, on their activities, friends, and routines. When parents understand their child’s perspective and honestly act in their best interest, they can increase resiliency within their child and help them thrive during a painful and difficult transition.
Written By: Michelle Rathburn, MAMFT