Divorce: What children need most
- a stable daily routine
- a low-stress environment
- quality contact with both parents.
But what they need most is for you to be okay. You need to do whatever you can to make yourself well. Learn about the specific, practical steps you can take by reading how to heal and take care of yourself in Make Any Divorce Better.
How to protect your children
Get over it. Studies show that harm to children is mostly due to conflict after the divorce. Everyone has conflict before and during a divorce. Yes, it hurts, but kids can get over it if you can get over it. If you get stuck, the pain goes on indefinitely and starts to permanently damage young minds. But if you get finished with it and resolve hard feelings at least within yourself, you help your children learn that problems can be solved and a new kind of happy stability can be created.
Create a stable environment. Children do much better when they have a predictable, stable schedule in a stable environment, so as soon as possible create a consistent routine for them and create a low-stress environment for them to grow in.
Insulate the child. Children are highly sensitive and impressionable, so you need to insulate them from your problems and problems you have with their other parent. Keep the conflict and worry away from them, don’t let them share the burdens, reassure them that things are going to be okay and act like you believe it. Children have an important bond with both parents, so be careful not to attack or in any way undermine their relationship with their other parent. Try to establish a schedule that will give your children quality contact with both parents.
Not their fault. The worst thing for the child of a broken home is feeling responsible for the breakup and feeling that loving one parent is a betrayal of the other. To protect your child from almost unbearable pain, don’t say anything bad about the other parent in front of the child; don’t undermine or interfere in any way with the child’s relationship with or love for the other parent; don’t put the child in a position of having to take sides. Be sure to let your children know that you are happy when they have a good, loving time with their other parent.
Ten Tips to Help Your Child Through a Tough Time
- Tell your children the truth in simple terms with simple explanations. Young children do not need adult details.
- Reassure them that they will continue to be taken care of and that they will be safe and secure.
- Your children will see that parents can stop loving each other. Reassure them that a parent’s love for a child is a special kind that never stops.
- Spend time with each child individually. Whether or not you have primary custody, the most important thing to the child is your individual relationship with that child. Build the best relationship you can in your circumstances. The future is built of many tiny moments.
- Children may feel responsible for causing the divorce. Reassure them that they are not to blame. They may also feel that it is their responsibility to bring their parents back together. Let them know that your decision is final and will have to be accepted.
- Divorcing parents often feel guilty and become over-indulgent. Give your child love, but also set limits.
- Your child is still a child and can’t become the man or woman of the house. Continue to be a parent to your child. Seek other adults to fill your own needs for companionship.
- Avoid situations that place a child in the impossible position of choosing between parents:
- Don’t use your child as a way to get back at your spouse. Children can be terribly wounded when caught in a cross-fire.
- Don’t say anything bad about the other parent in hearing of a child.
- Don’t say or do anything that might discourage the child from spending time with the other parent.
- Don’t encourage a child to take sides.
Read more about it in: Make Any Divorce Better