Third in our series “Children of Divorce” where we are exploring how to help children through their parents’ divorce.
Although you may not think it, children are tougher than you think. That doesn’t mean you should burden them with all your divorce issues. But given support, they will get through your divorce without too much hardship. Both parents need to take responsibility for this to happen. Regular contact with both parents is essential for them to feel the love and security they need to live a happy life.
That said, some children are more sensitive than others, and their parents’ divorce will affect them more. Sensitive children will need that extra reassurance that everything will be OK, and both parents love them. Children may become withdrawn and can then easily let the situation affect their life outside of the family home. Telling the child’s teacher at school about your situation can help the teacher keep an eye out for a change of behaviour. This will help the teacher to understand why your child may have quietened down or started to misbehave. Knowing that your separation is affecting your child early will help both parents to assist the child through this difficult time in their lives.
Often children will blame themselves for the break-up, thinking if they had behaved better, or got better results at school then their parents would stay together. They need to know, that nothing they could have done has caused the break-up of their parents.
It is always good for each parent to spend quality time with the children on their own. A regular day out with the children as a single parent builds bonds and trust. Having fun with the children will tell them that perhaps things aren’t going to be so bad. They will soon come to terms with the new living arrangements.
Another helpful thing to do, is to keep to established routines. The children will then know where they will be at the weekend and during the holidays. Also try to keep to regular pick-up / drop-off times. Children like routine, and letting them have some control over that routine helps too. As they get older, being able to make their own plans becomes more and more important. If they have to negotiate with both parents to meet with friends can cause issues. Try to be flexible for them.
If they are invited to a sleep-over, it can be embarrassing for them to not know who will be dropping-off and picking them up.
Divorce Negotiator can help you decide on parenting plans that are both fair for both parents, and more importantly, fair for the children.