Helping Children Cope with Divorce
When parents decide to opt for divorce, it is the most confusing and the saddest event for a child. The child goes through a constant fear of having to live with a single parent and also cope the stress of unpleasantness between two of the most important people of his life.
Parents are often at a loss of how to explain everything to the child while also conveying that their love for him hasn’t waned off. Presenting a united front, avoiding arguments in front of him and helping him express his feelings go a long way in easing out the process. Read on to find out how, when and what to tell your child.
When to Tell Children About Divorce?
It is good to tell the children about the divorce as soon as the decision is taken. They should definitely be made aware before any major changes takeover, like a parent moving out or a change of city or school for them. Being prepared will decrease the resentment they feel about the changes and in turn the divorce.
How to Tell Children About Divorce?
It is important that parents put up a united front while telling the children. The more the children see it as a joint decision, the easier it is for them to accept it. Have a talk with your spouse. Decide what you have to say. Avoid disagreements, blaming each other or any other arguments while talking to the kids. When you approach your child, be clear, direct and simple. Be as honest as possible.
Do Tell Them Why?
It is important for the children to know why you decided to move away from each other. What you tell them will, of course, depend on their age and levels of understanding, but a concrete reason helps them come to terms with the situation. If you do not give a reason they might draw their own conclusions, that might be far from the truth. They might blame one of the parents, and thus detaching themselves from him or her, or to make it worse, they might blame themselves.
What You can Do To help Your Child?
1. Reassure Them That it’s Not Their Fault:
This needs special mention if the kids are young. It needs to be reiterated that both the parents love them and that it is not their fault. Also, do mention that while parents might stop loving each other and separate out, they will never stop loving their children.
2. Do Not Make Them Choose:
It is a fact that children benefit from the presence of both the parents. Do not make them take sides. Encourage them to share an equal relationship with both the parents even if one parent loses custody of the child. This is reassuring and harbours the thought that they do not have to choose but can enjoy the love of both the parents even if they are not living together.
3. Encourage Routine:
Routine provides a sense of continuity and security. Even when the children come visiting, both parents should try to keep up a similar routine. Avoid going overboard with treats and do not allow them to take liberties. Parents should also stick to visiting or calling schedules. Not showing up without notice might be construed as a rejection by the children as they tend to get extra sensitive in stressful times.
4. Help Them Express Feelings:
Talk to them and listen to them. Encourage them to analyse, name and express their feelings like anger, hurt, disappointment and whatever else they are feeling. Support their feelings and let them know it is okay to feel that way.
With sensitive handling and care, children can tide over the tough times and continue to be close to both the parents. Moreover, this balanced approach also helps them see things positively and do well in their career, like other children, without getting affected.