10 Tips to Help Your Child After a Breakup or Divorce
Divorce can end some unhappy, unhealthy unions, and in the end, can become the best solution for a struggling family. But if you’re a parent going through it, you’re probably thinking about more than just yourself. If you stay up at night wondering how your children are affected — you’re not alone. There are ways to make this familial transition a bit easier for everyone.
Pediatrician Heather Sever, DO, says that divorce and separation can impact children at any age. To be able to guide your child through this major life event, you must first understand your child’s feelings and then, equip yourself with the right tools for coping. Dr. Sever shares tips, below.
Ways to help your child cope with divorce
1. Stay involved in your child’s life.
When you are not invested or don’t make time for your child, they feel unimportant. Your child wants both parents to be a part of their life. Make sure your child knows how much you love them.
2. Work hard to co-parent.
When you fight, especially about a child, they will blame themselves and think they’ve done something wrong. This leads to feelings of guilt or depression. Attempt to keep your child out of the middle of arguments by discussing things when they aren’t present. Discuss things directly with the other parent instead of relaying information through the child.
3. Be supportive of the time your child spends with the other parent.
Encourage your child to enjoy time with the other parent and new, extended family (if the other parent has started a new relationship or remarried).
4. Limit negative things said about the other parent.
If you are saying derogatory things about the other parent, this forces a child to feel like they need to agree with you or take sides. Don’t blame the other parent.
5. Communicate honestly.
Children deserve to know the truth about why you are getting a divorce, but simplify it. Plan ahead and carefully relay information. If possible, tell the child together. Explain the upcoming changes with living arrangements, activities, school routine, etc.
6. Help your child express their feelings.
It is imperative to listen to your child. Encourage them to be honest and acknowledge their feelings. Talking about divorce may be an ongoing process. Let them know they have no fault in the divorce. It is normal for them to express feelings of anger, resentment, depression or anxiety. This should gradually fade over time.
7. Let them know everything is going to be okay.
Change is hard. Reassure them that even though there will be some alterations in their schedules and daily routines, it will be possible to adapt and settle into a new normal. Teaching mindfulness can even create a new bond between you.
8. Keep routines intact.
Establish consistency and structure. This allows your child a sense of peace and stability when other aspects of their life are changing. However, don’t let them break the rules or become lax with chores/responsibilities.
9. Take care of yourself.
Take time for your own self-care. Find productive ways to cope with your circumstances by exercising, eating healthy, keeping in touch with friends or writing in a journal. You can even join a support group.
10. Consider counseling.
If your child is overwhelmed by the divorce, seek professional help. A counselor or therapist can provide reassurance for you and your child, and establish a framework for healing and hope for the future.
Source: Cleveland Clinic | How to Help Your Child After a Breakup or Divorce, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/help-child-breakup-divorce | © 2024 Cleveland Clinic