Helping Your Children Bounce Back From Divorce
For the most part, when parents’ split up, they feel badly about putting their children through the emotional pain of divorce. If you have decided that divorce is the best option for you and your children, it’s important for you to approach your situation with a positive mindset. As a wise parent, you should trust that your children have the capacity to come to their own judgment about your divorce and to move on.
Here are some strategies to help your children bounce back from divorce:
Stop the blame game and recognize that divorce forever pits children (even as adults) between their parents’ two disparate worlds. Children of all ages sense when their parents are cooperating and this will mean the world to them and help them feel calmer and to have fewer divided loyalties. Never bad-mouth your ex in front of your kids or make disparaging comments about them.
Explain the separation or divorce. The overall theme of this discussion is to tell your kids about your divorce in a clear and blameless manner, and make sure they know they still have a family.
Explain that your divorce is not their fault. This is a crucial message that needs to be repeated over and over again. Even if your children say they know it isn’t, most kids will succumb to these thoughts during times when they feel vulnerable or are dealing with transitions or stress.
Explain that it will take time to feel better and that you will be there to support them.
Keep the door open for further discussion. Kids have an uncanny ability to avoid serious discussions when their parents want to talk, so make sure they know you’re waiting in the wings when they feel like chatting.Stay connected through their daily lives and routines: idle chats, bedtime rituals, new projects, special dates; also notes, text messages, or Skype are helpful.
Allow your children age appropriate decisions, responsibility, and independence. Don’t rely on them too much for babysitting, household chores, or share adult details about your divorce. Don’t confide in them about personal issues – especially negative feelings about their other parent.
Gain a support system for yourself and your children. It is important for you and your kids to have a built in safety net. Keep your eye on your children’s adjustment and look for red flags such as excessive fatigue, sleep problems, drop in grades, using or abusing drugs or alcohol, extreme shifts in mood, or a tendency to isolate from family or friends.