It can be difficult when you are in a position of helping your child understand what your divorce means. Divorce is a difficult thing for everyone, adults and children alike. It carries a lot of unknowns for children and can feel very scary to them. These are some methods that you can use when you are helping your child understand what your divorce means.
1. Talk to Them
When you are working toward helping your child understand what your divorce means, you need to talk to them. Don’t leave them to work through their feelings on their own. Even if they don’t talk back very much, realize that they do hear you and they are listening. What you say right now matters. It is a time to reassure your child they are very loved and will always be taken care of.
2. Make It an Open Subject
Your divorce should not be something your child is afraid to talk to you about. Let them know it is an open subject they can come to you with. You do not have to go into discussing the adult content with them but be there to help guide them through their feelings. Let them know they can ask you questions and talk about it whenever they need to do so. This will help them to feel more secure.
3. Make a Calendar
One thing that is difficult for children when they go through divorce is that they often feel shaken by the changes happening. They may feel unsure and intimidated by the going back and forth between mom and dad. You want to make this as normal as you can for your child. It can help to make a calendar for them to help them understand when they will be with either mom or dad. You can write the information on it or simply color code it if your child is small.
4. Read about It
It can help your child to have some information on what divorce is and what it is like to be a child of divorced parents. There are many books on the subject that can help your child. Be sure that the ones you choose are age appropriate. Also, you may want to read them yourself before you give them to your child to be sure the book is giving a positive message of encouragement and support. Books like this can be very helpful for your child.
5. Give Examples
Sometimes a divorce seems really scary to a child because it is the unknown. That is understandable. The unknown makes all of us a little uneasy. You may want to talk about some of your child’s friends, cousins or classmates that have divorced parents. This can help them to feel more normal in the new situation in their life. The good thing is that children are resilient and will adjust to the changes.
6. Point out the Good Things
We all know that a divorce is sad and hard for everyone involved, including the children. In no way do we want to deny that. But it can be a good thing to help your child focus on the positive things in their life. Maybe you can help them to focus on the fact they get time with both mom and dad to celebrate a holiday. Perhaps it would be helpful to remind them they get to have time with each parent individually.
7. Talk about Attitude
Attitude is very important to deal with. Your child is going to have strong feelings about divorce and they are entitled to those feelings. However, they are not entitled to mistreat others because of those feelings. My philosophy when I went through a divorce with my children was that they had the right to feel all kinds of feelings but they did not have the right to be unkind or act out because of that. This will help your child to realize that unacceptable behavior is not allowed regardless of what is going on in their life.
Helping your child through your divorce is difficult but you can do it. What tips helped you in this situation? How did you help your child to cope?