Forth in our series “Children of Divorce” where we are exploring how to help children through their parents’ divorce.
Children react differently when their parent’s divorce. Some become rebellious, some withdraw into themselves, while others don’t change at all.
No matter how your children react to your divorce, both parents need to maintain stability, whether it’s during the period where one leaves the family home or when both parents are living apart. Routines need to be maintained. Try to keep mealtimes and bedtimes the same as when you were with your partner. Try to stick to the same house rules as before too. If possible, ensure the children keep going to the same after-school clubs. Keeping them with their friends at the football club or ballet school will help them get through the initial separation period. The reason for doing this is to reinforce that life still goes on. Structure outside the family home can compensate for turmoil within the family home. This tells the children “We are going to be OK”.
Children often do not have the ability to voice their feelings easily. You will also be in an emotional turmoil too, so noticing small changes in your children may be difficult. In this case, it is good to use the opinion of extended family and friends. Grandparents can be useful to pick up small changes if they are in regular contact with the children. Having regular contact with grandparents also helps to build stability for the child, so this can only be a good thing for the children.
High Conflict Divorces
Children from a high conflict divorce often have difficulty learning normal, healthy interpersonal skills because of the example set by their parents. They can gravitate to towards dysfunctional peer groups, where anti-social behaviour is the norm. Watch to see if your child changes friends, or joins different friend groups. Encourage your child to have their new friends at your house, so you can meet any new friends in a safe environment.
Keeping your children busy with after-school clubs lets you control who they mix with and keeps them out of trouble. But don’t force them into doing something they don’t want to do. This will only cause friction in your relationship with your child. Suggest joining clubs their friends go to.
Academic problems require immediate action, so it is a good idea to keep in close contact with your child’s teachers. As long as you keep your childs teacher informed of your home life, they can warn you of any changes in behaviour within the classroom ,and whether the child is keeping up with classwork.