Written by: Anoja Muthucumaru
Divorce and separation is hard for the whole family. Divorce has defining impacts on the participants and this is especially true for children. Separation can be self-defining and stressful for children of any age. During this process of instability in the home children may act out, which can be unhealthy if unaddressed. It is important that parents during this time focus on some key tips when push comes to shove.
1) Create stability through constant communication and conversation with your child. Also think about having only one place during this process where your child will stay without moving back and forth.
2) Reaffirm your unconditional love daily. During the process children may doubt a parent’s affection towards them and may blame themselves for the separation.
3) Be calm, and I known that sounds easy, but when push comes to shove keeping calm will require a lot of willpower. It is important to keep yourself together in front of your children both emotionally and physically. Children do not want to see their parents cry, yell or eat a box of chocolate in despair or anger.
4) Work together in having both parents in a child’s life. It is important for children to know that divorce will not change their relationship with their parents.
5) Do not shoot the messenger. Do not use your children to gain information about your partner or addresses your concerns about your partner. You concerns and worries should be kept between you and your partner.
I hope these tips have given you a helping hand. If you want more information about what role parents play in helping child through the divorce process, drop by the Family Care Office library and borrow one of our many books. Many of this information were also addressed in the Separation and Divorce: What about My Children? Workshop by the Family Care Office, and in Today’s Parent article by John Hoffman Kids and Divorce: An Age-By-Age Guide. For handouts from the Workshop drop by the office to get more information.