Healing after a divorce is a long process and never easy but it begins with you. Children can emotionally heal from a divorce if you can stabilize yourself first. One of the worst things you can do is let your children see your pure emotions as you recover from the divorce yourself. Often times, children will feel a greater impact if they see how upset their parents are by the separation. This can ultimately lead to resentment, or poisoning as I like to call it. Here are some suggestions to help both yourself and your children heal.
SEEK COUNSELING. Get your head around the fact that you are divorcing. It may take many months for a divorce to finally feel real. Work through your resentment of why the relationship didn’t work out and find a way to come to terms with it. If you can do this first, the separation will be much easier on the children.
MAKE SLOW CHANGES. Your whole family dynamic has been abruptly altered so make your new changes slowly. The normal sounds and sights of home, family members and friends may be gone, so it is going to be difficult to adjust for everyone. Making small changes one at a time will be easier to manage for them.
LET YOUR CHILD LOVE THE OTHER PARENT. This is probably the most important thing you can do. A child shouldn’t have to pick sides, or love one parent any less just because there is a separation. Many parents don’t understand this and it really is a tragedy. Pitting your child against the other parent just because you are hurt is extremely damaging, quite childish and downright selfish. Be a good parent and let them have a relationship with them. Your children will only resent you in the long run, so be smart.
DON’T BADMOUTH YOUR EX. Its time to grow up now, you’re an adult and most importantly, you have a responsibility to your children to help them heal through this difficult time. You have to find a way to put aside your ill feelings about your ex to help your children. Your children do not want to hear bad things about a parent. Remember, when they were living in the house, they had a relationship with them. You can’t just expect your kids to turn on the parent because of a separation.
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS. It is natural for the children to feel sad after a divorce but they do not know that those are normal feelings to have. Reinforce them that it is ok to feel down about it. Trying to be a cheerleader everyday is just annoying so stop that right behavior. Your children have to learn how to cope with the new changes and by allowing them to express their feelings will help them cope through the pain faster.
ADOPT A PET. Adding a new pet after some time can always add new joy for the new family situation. Also giving your child certain responsibilities of caring for the pet will take their mind off of the divorce. A puppy is always a great way to bond as a family.
ZERO RECONCILIATION. Let the children know that there is zero chance of a reconciliation for you and Dad or Mom. Most children fantasize about their parents getting back together after a divorce so being crystal clear about the relationship status will be definitive and helpful for them. The sooner they start the process of adjusting to a new life, the easier each day will get for them.
IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT. Many children feel that the divorce is their fault. This fact must be constantly reinforced. Many children will think, oh if I only picked up my room, or behaved better, my parents wouldn’t be divorcing. Be sure to explain the reasons why a divorce is happening.
DO NOT FIGHT WITH YOUR EX IN FRONT OF THE KIDS. This is an overlooked item. I always was able to grasp this concept early on but some other just can’t figure it out. All fighting in front of the kids does is confuse them and bring to light issues that are for adults only. Be smart and hold your tongue or find a way to communicate with your ex the right way via private phone call or conversation when the children are not within an earshot of distance.
Divorce is never easy on anyone, especially children. Working through your own issues of divorce as an adult is the best way to ensure your children an easier time in coping with their new lives.