Divorce is often hardest on children, who may feel a lack of control over what happens in their life. After living with both parents for years, it can be devastating to suddenly watch as your home is split into two. Younger children may be confused regarding what divorce even means, and older children may become resentful about the changes that occur in their life. Being aware of your child’s emotional response to the divorce helps you to enact these four strategies that help them process what is happening in positive ways.
Keep Communication Open
Once a divorce is inevitable, most parents sit their child down to have an honest discussion about the future. This is a great way to start off your child’s awareness of the divorce, but it is also important to make it clear that this is not the only and final conversation. During this talk, let your child know that you and the other parent are open to hearing about how the child feels as things progress. Let him or her know that no question is too silly or small to ask, and try your best to respond to each one with understanding. Allowing your child to vent emotions and ask questions helps you stay on top of any new issues that arise.
Seek Help from a Therapist
In some cases, you may not be able to work through this process on your own. Your child may need to talk to another trusted adult, and collaborative therapy provides children with a safe outlet for figuring out how to process their emotions. You can participate in this type of therapy as a family, or your child can attend individual sessions. Either way, giving your child a professional therapist to work with adds new coping strategies to his or her tool kit that helps him or her make it through the transition to having two parents living in different houses.
Be Honest About What Will Happen
You need to establish trust right now, and that means being honest. Your child will naturally have questions about the future such as where he or she will live, how overnight visits will work, and if he or she will have to change schools. If you already know the answers for sure, then tell your child the truth. It is also okay to tell your child that certain things are not decided yet as long as you are willing to communicate once they are decided.
Continue to Check in with Your Child
Your child still needs your support as he or she continues to work through the process of accepting the divorce. Be sure to ask your child how he or she is doing from time to time. Since some children may not reach out, you also need to watch for signs that he or she may be struggling, such as having trouble in school or having a sudden change in friends.
As you help your family navigate their way through this challenging time, remember that things can change rapidly regarding your child’s mindset. Be willing to reach out to your support system if you find that you or your child is struggling. By being proactive, you can make sure that your child emerges from the divorce stronger and with the knowledge that he or she has your support.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. She recommends for businesses to look into IT consultant companies near them. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan