Helping Your Child Through Divorce
When you thought about your life, things always seemed so bright. Divorce wasn’t even a word in your vocabulary. Yet here you are...in the midst of the paperwork and the emotional agony, trying to pick up the pieces of your life. You can’t imagine how you will get by, you don’t even know how to feel. And then there’s your child...or children. You’ve heard how devastating divorce can be for kids. You never wanted them to go through this, but how can you help them?
Here are some tips to help support your child through your divorce.
Continue to spend time with them
As their parent, your children need you. Although you may want to shut away the world and just be alone following the separation, it is important to continue to show up for your children. Continue to go to their sports practices, keep on having your weekly movie nights. Whatever it is you normally do with your children, try your best to keep that up.
Remain neutral toward your ex-spouse around the children
Not all divorces end on a high note, and you may be feeling a million different negative emotions toward your former spouse. But, save the venting for a friend, family member, or therapist--not your children. When it comes to your children, remaining neutral and refraining from talking badly about your former spouse will help your child process things without any additional distress.
Talk with your child about how they’re feeling
Divorce is highly stressful and upsetting for the adults, and children tend to also hold these feelings. Moreover, many kids don’t exactly understand what this big “divorce” word means and may draw their own conclusions, whether true or off. It is important to have an honest conversation with your child about how they are feeling about these changes and address any misconceptions or fears they may have. This builds understanding and helps your children feel understood and supported.
Take time to help yourself
As a parent, you’re probably used to always putting your children first. However, it is necessary to step back and process things, see how you’re feeling, and keep up with self care. Divorce can be brutal, and in order to be fully present for your kids, you need to be taking care of yourself. Find some things that help you relax and utilize them.
For yourself and for your children. Having a neutral person to talk with is a HUGE support when going through any life change, especially something like divorce. This time will help you and/or your children process what has been going on, identify feelings, and work toward developing coping skills and supports.