Divorce can be a very scary and confusing time for a child. Life before was not often butterflies and roses with mommy and daddy fighting, but to a young child this can often feel like the world as they know it is falling apart. With the increasing figures of divorce rates, this is often a forgotten topic. Follow these tips to help your child get through the emotional situation.
Breaking up or ending a marriage is an incredibly difficult task for any individual, but the main thing to remember is that children need happy homes. Often a happy single parent is better than two constantly bickering parents.
1. Don’t let your child be the messenger.
Some children feel responsible for the divorce and act as peace brokers to try and remedy the situation. Communication through the child causes undue stress and pressure on your child and should be limited. If you need to discuss anything with your ex spouse – technology has become a vital tool so that you do not even have to hear their voice. You also have a recorded version of the conversation via tools like email and whatsapp.
2. Don’t bad mouth your ex
As tempting as it may be to teach your 3 year old to call mommy or daddy bad names, this is not helping the perceptions that they have of their parents. Parents are role models and your child will have plenty of time to establish their own opinions. Don’t rob your child of their childhood by loading them with explicit details or angry thoughts about your ex. Older kids will be understanding and provide a sympathetic shoulder, but you need to remember that your primary role is to be the parent here. Many experts says that making your child a cohort may do damage to them in later life.
3. Understand the situation from your child’s point of view
It is very important that you explain the situation to your child and that this is not their fault, make them feel understood and that their feelings are important to you. Be understanding and don’t tell them what to think or feel. Often they are not looking for a solution but just want to be heard, verbalizing what they feel can help them to deal with the situation.
4. Avoid the 3rd degree:
Treat your child’s weekend at your spouse like they have just spent the weekend with an uncle or aunt, by not talking about it children feel like they should compartmentalize the 2 worlds. Ask general questions so that they feel like you are interested in their entire world. Don’t try and squeeze out information from the child about your ex. Asking questions about how the weekend with dad was for example is fine, asking if daddy has a new girlfriend is not appropriate. You have moved on for a reason and need to respect their privacy and focus on creating a better life for yourself.
5. Repair the damage that has already been done:
Children are remarkably forgiving and no parent ever intends to hurt their child. If you recognize behavior that could be damaging set the record straight and start immediately on the repair. Apologize and tell them what you have done, why it was wrong and commit to changing in the future. Make it into a bonding exercise where your child can be in control, for example when you bad mouth your ex let your little one give you a signal like raising their hand. They will then feel involved in the process and see that you are trying to change in order to do the best for them.by