If you are a parent going through a divorce, then you are not in an easy situation. Divorcing your spouse can be incredibly stressful, as it requires you to take care of mountains of paperwork and legal fees – not to mention the emotional stress. However, there is one more thing that you need to take care of during this very difficult time, and that is the mental health of your child. Children can be good at hiding things. They might not always let it show, but it is very likely that your divorce is causing your child lots of emotional distress. In this article, you will find a list of tips for helping your child, ranging from helping them put their feelings into words, offering support, and making it clear that your child is loved to not fighting in front of your child and contacting a child psychologist.
1 – Speak to Your Child and Be Honest
If you want to help your child cope with your divorce, then the most important thing that you can do is to speak to your child openly and honestly. This will not only give them a better understanding of what is going on, but more importantly, it will help to further establish trust your child has in you. And it could help them prepare for difficult relationship and social interactions when it is their time to confront them.
It is very likely that you have been putting off talking to your child for quite some time, and now, you finally have no choice but to do it. Don’t let this opportunity pass, as it is the best way for you to help your child.
However, there are some things that you have to remember when talking to your child. One of those things is that your child will see your divorce as a direct criticism of their other parent. This could be tempting to indulge, but you have to be strong. The consequences of falling into the trap of malicious parent syndrome are extremely negative for your child and, ultimately for you too.
Another thing that you have to keep in mind is that your child will take your divorce personally. To make sure that your child knows that they are loved, you should say so.
2 – Make Sure That Your Child Understands That You and Your Spouse Are Working Together
After talking to your child about how they feel, it is important for you to make sure that they know that you and your spouse are working together. This can be done by doing things like eating dinner together every night and spending time together.
You and your spouse will need to make a conscientious decision and a concerted effort to avoid arguing in front of the child. But it is good to let the child see their parents working together, even if the end result will be a separation – at least that will help give the impression that the separation was as painless and problem-free as possible.
3 – Tell Your Child You Need Them
This tip is admittedly a hard one to navigate. You need to be careful not to put too much pressure on your child or make them feel like they are responsible. But if you are able to communicate honestly and clearly and can get them to see and understand the relationship is coming to an end, then you can solicit their help in being strong and not aggravating the situation.
Your child could act in one of two ways to the divorce. They could feel resentment and lash out. If that is the case, they will intentionally do things to try and get back at you and your spouse, to try and hurt you. This is not uncommon, but it is quite difficult to handle.
The other option is that you are able to express how you are hurting from the loss of the relationship, but that you are so glad you still have a good relationship with your child. In these instances, the child is likely to want to be supportive and help the best way they can.
You could try to impart to them how important their happiness is and that the best thing they could do for you is to try and not let the divorce affect their schoolwork and their relationships with their friends and with you and your spouse.
You must let them know that the end of the marriage was never their fault and that you still love them. Also, it might be a good idea for you to get a professional involved, like a therapist who can help you talk to your child about how divorce works in general and about why it happened in particular.
4 – Help Your Child Put Their Feelings Into Words and Encourage Them to Talk to Others About It
One of the things that children struggle with during and after a divorce is expressing their emotions. They might be upset about something, but they might not be able to put those feelings into words. If this is the case, then you should encourage them to find a way to express themselves through art or writing.
This will help your child identify and express or vent their feelings and figure out how they feel about everything that has happened between their parents. However, this is not enough; it is also very important to encourage them to talk to someone else about what they are feeling. It might be a friend or family member, or you might even consider getting in touch with a therapist or a counselor. Doing this will help your child release their feelings towards someone else and will allow them to process what happened in a healthy way.
Going through a divorce is not easy on anyone – not on the husband and wife, and not on the children. There are many reasons why a divorce might be necessary – infidelity, addiction, financial abuse in marriage. However, the end result should be a break in the marriage and not a break in the trust and the relationship with your child. Be as honest and as vulnerable you can be with your child during this process. But at the same time let them see that you and your spouse are working together to make the break up as painless as it can be for everyone involved.