If you are thinking about divorce or are in the midst of a divorce and are worried about how the divorce might affect your children, you can take action now to help ease the transition for them.
The term “divorce” is simply a legal term for dissolving the marriage. What tends to negatively affect your child’s emotional well-being is actually the amount of conflict and hostility present in the household before and during a divorce. I know this all too well as an adult child of divorce and from experience with representing many clients over the years.
Here are the top 5 ways you can take control now to help your child:
#5: Schedule regular times for your child to spend quality time with the other parent. It is generally a good idea for you and your co-parent to agree as soon as possible on a regular parenting time schedule so that your child has the opportunity to spend one-on-one quality time with each of you. This can help ease the transitional adjustment for your child.
#4: Seek guidance from a reputable and competent family counselor. This is especially important if your child is suddenly doing poorly in school, having trouble in social situations, or experiencing any change in his or her eating or sleeping patterns. It is also a good idea to check in with your child’s teachers about any sudden changes in behavior at school. You can obtain referrals to reputable family counselors from family members, friends, colleagues, and especially your child’s pediatrician, school guidance counselors, and teachers. There are also programs, such as Rainbows, that may be available directly through your child’s school, as well as local support groups that deal directly with children and divorce.
#3: Do not talk to your child about the details of your divorce or any of the legal proceedings. No matter how emotionally mature you feel your child is, she is not your confidante. You should address your legal issues directly with your attorney, not your child.
#2: Do not bad-mouth the other parent to your child under any circumstances. Understandably, you might have negative feelings about the other parent during this time. It is important to be aware, however, that mental health experts have found that children generally tend to identify with both parents and when one parent talks badly about the other, children in turn can feel badly about themselves. Therefore, try to point out positive qualities about the other parent to your child, particularly if your child voices negative feelings about the other parent to you. In general, you have a responsibility to your child to foster and encourage a relationship between your child and her other parent.
And the Number One thing you can do for your child is:
#1: Love your child unconditionally and make it clear to him. He needs to know that is the one thing that will never change!