If you think adjusting to the divorce is hard on you, just imagine how challenging it is for your children to accept that their parents have split up. Kids can really struggle with their emotions during these stressful times. It’s important for parents to be aware of their children’s feelings and do nothing to exacerbate their worries and fears.
Below are some tips and suggestions for helping the kids adjust to their family’s “new normal.”
Don’t make your kids be mini messengers
Sometimes, it might be too raw or painful to communicate directly with your ex. But it is never okay to ask the children to ferry messages between the two adults.
Technology provides you with many options when direct communication isn’t working. Send a text message or an email, or leave them a voice message on their phone. There’s even special software that divorced parents can use to communicate vital information about the kids with one another.
Understand your children’s perspective
Their world came crashing down when you and your spouse divorced. Respect their feelings as they heal from the blow. It’s normal for them to regress a bit or display anger or sadness.
Buy the kids journals and/or art supplies to help them express their feelings. Listen to them when they are ready to share but don’t try to pry things out of them. If they express anger toward their other parent, don’t pile on with your own litany of complaints. Be their sounding board without judging.
Don’t treat your teens as your therapist
Be mindful not to overshare your own anxieties about the divorce or any financial stresses you may have to your teenagers. If you need to vent, confide in a friend. Or better yet, seek a therapist who can help you put the situation in perspective and move forward.
Don’t grill your kids about weekends or visits with their other parent
You don’t want to make them feel as if they can’t share these aspects of their lives with you, but let the sharing evolve naturally. Peppering them with questions can cause them to clam up.
Ask neutral questions, like “Did you have a good weekend at Daddy’s?” Then, listen to their responses without getting emotional or asking nosey questions about who else may have been there.
Find a counselor who works with children of divorce
Sometimes, kids need a little help bouncing back from a divorce. If your child seems particularly unhappy or unable to manage their anger, ask their pediatrician or your Bellaire family law attorney for some referrals to therapists familiar with treating kids whose parents have divorced.