When you are dealing with a divorce it’s a complicated and stressful time. It may be natural to display your emotions, talk about what’s happening and be angry at the other parent, but you have to remember everything you do and say affects your child. Here are some of your responsibilities as a parent during a divorce:
A very important responsibility you have as a parent is to take care of yourself. Divorce is emotionally draining; dealing with all the changes that are taking place can have a harsh impact on your health. During times like these your children need you more than ever and that means taking care of yourself must be a priority, so you can be there for them.
Here are some tips to help you explain to your child/ren what is happening. The tips are sorted by developmental level.
Children in this age range will find it most difficult to understand what’s going on. They have very limited comprehension of complex issues. Preschool children may have some ability to think about feelings, but often have limited ability to talk about those feelings. Consistent care and nurturing is important. Be sure to try keeping the same schedule for them as you did before the split. For example, no matter which parent the child is with, bedtime is always at eight o’clock.
Children in this age range will be able to understand what is happening around them, but not necessarily why it is happening. They have more of an ability to have a conversation about their thoughts and feelings. It’s important to make sure you talk about the separation or divorce with them and make yourself aware of how they are feeling. Stable care and routines are important.
While children this age seem more like young adults it doesn’t mean that they will deal with the separation or divorce easier than younger children. As much as you probably need someone who knows the situation to talk to, you shouldn’t rely on your child to be your sounding board. They need stability, to know it’s not their fault and for you to first and foremost be their parent. Keep the lines of communication open even if the teen appears not to want to talk.
Common tips no matter what the age of children:
Let children know it’s not their fault
Let children know both parents love them
Let children know they aren’t losing their family, it’s just changing
Seek professional help for your children when necessary. Some children may need counselling or other care.