Many a time couples tend to postpone divorce fearing the negative impact it might have on their children. But, in certain cases when divorce is inevitable, here is what you can do to shield your child from the negative impact.
Kids’ emotional health should be your foremost priority: Put aside your ego and legal battles and make your child’s future your priority. You need to ensure that they have a positive environment that nourishes them emotionally.
Steer clear of fights with your ex: This can be challenging but not impossible. If you have decided to part ways then separate amicably with mutual respect and also in the interest of your child. Try refraining from ugly fights before your children. You will only set a bad example if you do that. Settle your issues, whether they are financial or legal, quickly.
Both parents should involve in the child’s life: Whether it is a joint custody or sole custody, parents have to know about what’s happening in their kids’ lives. This can have a significant impact on the child’s growth. Being able to handle everything single-handedly is a different thing, but the fact is that kids’ need both the parents for healthy emotional development. When one of the parents abandons the child, the effect can be harmful.
Empathize with your child: It’s quite natural for kids to miss a parent when they don’t get to spend enough time with them. In such a case, the parent who gets to spend more time with the child should empathize with the child instead of ignoring the stress of missing the other parent.
Nurture the relationship with the other parent: If the child is happy and having fun with the other parent, so be it, nurture the relationship further. Kids need both the parents. If your ex has a new person in his/her life ensure that your child has a good relationship with that person because he/she is going to be part of your child’s life. Don’t instill negativity in your child about that person, as it will keep your ex away from your child.
Give love and reassurance: Children feel insecure and vulnerable when they see their parents divorcing. The uncertainty of the future makes them anxious. Do not let that thought seep into their minds. Provide them with love and attention and reassure them that even if you have decided to move on they will always get equal love from both the parents.
Give them the freedom: Let them have the freedom to see the other parent whenever they want to. You shouldn’t let your personal choices interfere with their interests. Even worse, don’t ask them whom they want to stay with. Your objective should be to provide stability and happiness to your child. You should let the kids have enough time with both the parents without any restrictions or prejudices.
Let them vent out their emotions: It’s alright for your child to feel sad, cry or rebel at a time like this. You can comfort them by saying, “It’s alright to be angry, I understand how you are feeling. Can we play squash to release your anger?”
Whenever your children want to talk, listen to them and reiterate what they are going through by saying, “I know you are very angry at us for the divorce, but you know what I can help you change your mood.” Understand their emotions, but don’t debate with them. Continue having talks till your kids adapt to the situation.
Don’t talk about your ex: You will have a lot of things to say about your ex, but resist the urge to talk anything negative. It creates a wrong impression in the child’s mind about the parent and might also hurt the child. You will lose your credibility by doing that. If the other parent has stopped paying for your child’s maintenance, don’t share that information with your children. You might make them feel all the more unloved and miserable.
Have relevant boundaries with your kids: Never share your love life or financial woes with your children. Don’t put them in a position where they have to comfort you. It’s for you to do that job. They need to know that you are stable and strong. You might not be able to pull through it alone, but take help from other adults in your family and friends.
Let the transition between homes be smooth: When you are having your child to shift from one home to the other, do it peacefully without any baggage attached. You can plan the transition at a place away from home, at a play park for instance. Don’t expect your child to adjust overnight.
Make the home environment warm: Kids might find it unusual to live in two homes. However, make it nice for them by being friendly and warm. For instance, you can keep their favorite things such as story books, toys, or chocolates ready whenever they come home. Children will understand that their interests are being taken care of. Don’t make them feel like they are here temporarily. Don’t get irritated if your child leaves stuff at the other house.
Make the most of what you have: Divorce can be a major life changer leading to good and bad consequences. It all depends on how you take it. If you want to grieve over it, you can, but you need to bounce back and move on with your life. Most of all, you need to show your child how strong you are despite having obstacles in life. You need to nurture and heal yourself and make your life the priority. Your child will learn watching you.
If one parent is not available: Children need the presence of both parents in their lives. But, if one of the parents is never there or even worse abandons the kids, then the onus is on the available parent to make up for the lack of the other parent by nurturing the child. But the loss of not having that parent will always remain with the child. You can help your child become emotionally strong by providing love and support.
Postpone introducing your new partner to your child: Give your child some time to adapt to the new circumstances. Don’t be in a hurry to introduce your new partner to the child. Have patience and let your child get familiar and comfortable with your partner before you introduce him/her as their step-dad or step-mom.
Protecting your child from divorce is one thing, but helping your child cope with it is a different ball game.
Reviewed by Ronald R. Petroff (Family Attorney)
Written by Kalpana M
June 9, 2020