One of the most difficult things about divorce is telling your kids. Sometimes we’re so caught up in our own drama and heartache that we don’t notice their struggles. While you can’t bring their family back, there are a few things you can do to make it easier on them and relieve some of your guilt in the process:
Don’t Use Your Child as a Sounding Board
Regardless of how old your child is, never use her as a sounding board for your frustrations with the other parent. That relationship is between you and your former spouse. If you need someone to listen, choose an adult friend or a therapist.
Tell Teachers and Coaches
Often our children spend more waking time each day with teachers, coaches, and caregivers than they do with us. Make these adults aware of the situation at home. It’s not an easy conversation but bringing them into your confidence means they can keep an eye out for troubling behavior.
Some schools offer divorce groups where children can share their experiences with their peers. The school counselor can advise you of what the district offers.
Talk to Your Child
Get a gage on how he’s feeling and do your best to be very approachable during the transition. Start conversations and take the time to listen. Your family dynamic is changing. Depending on the age, your child will most likely be having conversations with peers about the situation but that’s not enough. You need to understand his thoughts as well.
Keeping lines of communication open within the family also extends to your former spouse. There may be extreme feelings of animosity but you need to table those and place your child’s interest above them.
Know Your Child Identifies with your Spouse
Communication is key to successful co-parenting but it will also help you raise a healthy child as your child sees that relationship as part of them. If he witnesses you yelling at his dad to leave, he may feel that you will do the same to him one day. A child who hears you calling her mom a terrible name may think you feel the same way about her.
When you were married the comment, “You’re just like your mom/dad”, may have been taken as a compliment. If you say that now with great animosity towards the other parent, your child will feel it.
Keep Change to a Minimum
Children are creatures of habit. They don’t like change and this change is one they have no control over. Do your best to keep things consistent. While you may not be able to afford the week-long vacations you took every year, try to plan little getaways, for instance. It may not always be possible, but sticking to the routine will give them some peace of mind during the transition process.
Divorce is a change to the family structure but there are ways to minimize the fallout from it. If you’re interested in finding out more about a collaborative divorce and whether it can work for you and your family, call Dean Tsourakis today.on Nov 25, 2014