There’s a lot to manage when you suddenly find yourself going through a divorce. On top of all the legal and financial concerns, it’s important to take care of your mental health. Just as important is caring for your family’s mental health, particularly younger children. Just like you, they’re in the middle of having their entire world turned upside down. This makes divorce a particularly challenging time for everyone involved. This article has been designed to provide those going through this process with some techniques for aiding their children along the way. Together you’ll be able to successfully survive this period of adjustment and set the standards for your new “normal” going forward.
Important Steps In Helping Your Child Navigate Divorce
First and foremost, it’s important to respect the emotions your child will be experiencing during this time. They need to know that they’re free to express their emotions and ask questions about what’s happening. Remember, their lives are going through just as much upheaval as yours. You may find that you need to ask your children about how they’re feeling.
It’s common to hear about children who are withholding their emotions from their parents in an attempt to protect them. They don’t want their parents to have the additional worry of having to handle the child’s unhappiness about what’s happening. They need to know that they can and need to reach out about their feelings so that everyone can process them together. Remember, listening to what they have to say is essential. Don’t take action or try to help them unless they ask, though you can ask if they need or want help. Some things that may let you know your child isn’t handling the divorce well include:
- Regressive behavior
- Behavioral issues
- Signs of Anxiety
- Expressions of guilt
- Difficulty focusing
Parenting can be quite challenging at the best of times. Trying to be a good parent during a divorce is definitely parenting in hard mode. The most important and constructive thing you can do is to insulate them from conflicts between the adults. Their home life should remain as normal as possible, and this includes keeping up with extracurricular activities. If new routines have to be established due to the changes happening, set them up and remain consistent. This will need to proceed during the divorce proceedings and as you both start working out the details of the co-parenting arrangement.
Take Care Of Yourself As Well
One of the most critical things you can do during this time is to take care of yourself. This may mean seeking help from mental health professionals and coordinating with their schools. School counselors have plenty of experience with parents that are going through a divorce. They’ll have tips and resources to make the process easier for you and the children, at least where schooling is involved. Don’t be afraid about reaching out for help during this challenging time. Those close to you may want to help but be at a complete loss for how they can.