Parenting is never easy; and it becomes more challenging when separating or getting divorced. It is not only an emotional and stressful time for the parents; it is also hard on our children as well. Children are gifts, our most valued possessions and during this most difficult time in family life, it is important that we are not just thinking of our own feelings; theirs are important and count too; it’s Guiding them through the divorce.
Younger kids have a harder time expressing their concerns thru words and dealing with emotions can be displayed through anger, temper tantrums, they may become hostile and difficult to please, problems sleeping at night, etc.
While older kids are more able to voice their emotions, they still feel the pain, they can become withdrawn, start to fall behind in school work, and even display signs of depression. Statistics have also shown that middle school and high school aged children often turn to substance abuse to numb the emotions of what is going on in the home.
Regardless the child’s age, divorce is tough. It is a disruption to familiar home life. It is hard for kids to see the distant behavior between the parents, it is getting adjusted to two separate homes, it is dealing with the absence of one parent and spending time with the other. Children are so impressionable at any age; it is essential proper care and steps towards all the children involved are taken.
Things We Must Tell Our Children
- We must always remain honest with our children. It is important that you voice to your child that your feelings have changed towards mom/dad, but you still love them and they will still be safe.
- It is mandatory that we let our child know that the divorce is not a result of anything they did; it’s not your fault, you have done nothing to cause this. I say this is mandatory because children are known to blame themselves for the divorce; we need to reiterate to them that they did nothing to cause the separation/ divorce.
- Explain to your child that it is natural and normal to have feelings and let them know that you’re always here to talk with them. Tell them they are important to you and their feelings matter.
- May children will try very hard to keep the relationship together between mom and dad. This is all they’ve known! You must explain to your children that it is not their responsibility to take care of us; it is our responsibility to take care you.
- Many kids will feel they need to take sides between mom and dad. Tell your children that it is okay to love both of us, just as before. Tell them they do not need to take sides; we both still love you the same, and we always will.
Things We Must NEVER Do During Divorce/ Separation
- Please do not involve your children in the divorce. They are heart broken as it is and dealing with so much emotion. Make the transition as smooth as possible. Do not argue and fight in front of them, or where they can hear you.
- Your children are not detectives, please do not pump them for information; this is asking them to betray the other parent; doing this only damages the parent – child bond.
- Children also have a hard time when they are only allowed to have certain possessions at mom’s house or at dad’s house. If find this wrong, it doesn’t matter who bought the item for the child, it is theirs and they should be able to move it from home to home. Same goes for clothing items. It doesn’t matter what parent bought it, it is the child possessions and the child should be able to enjoy it regardless of what home they are at.
- Don’t involve your children into adult situations. If it is the other parents visiting day or weekend, allow the child to be there and make it a point that they are on time. Just because you are upset with your ex, don’t make your child suffer because of it. They love spending time with both of you; let’s think of the child’s feelings and sit yours aside. Children are reassured by structure in their lives; keep to the schedule.