Helping your child heal after a divorce will help them now, as they grow and later in life when they are developing relationships and a family. Here are seven top tips to assure this healing process:
- Respect your child’s needs (not strictly wants) such a routine, stability, love, and a sense of belongingness with both parents.
- Assure low-conflict among family members: including interactions between parents, stepparents, siblings, stepsiblings, and extended family members.
- Conduct shared parenting or a parenting plan which ensures that your children have equal access to both parents (assuming your child feels safe with both). New research shows that joint or shared parenting actually reduces conflict between divorced parents.
- Attempt to avoid moving or getting remarried too soon after divorce. Drastic changes interfere with the healing process. If this isn’t possible, consider counseling for your children to help ease the pain associated with adjusting to new people and situations. Too much change may challenge your children’s ability to cope effectively.
- Respect boundaries. When your children are with one parent, the other parent needs to respect their time with that parent and not plan activities or partake in excessive communication with the other parent (phone, text, etc.) that would interfere.
- Prepare for the rough patches. This includes holidays, birthdays, and special occasions which set the stage for loyalty conflicts. Ease transitions between the two homes and communicate in a non-adversarial way to your former spouse about schedules, finances, or your children’s well-being.
- Stop the blame game and recognize that even as adults, divorce will always put the children between their parents’ two worlds. Even if you aren’t guilty of bad-mouthing your ex, you can help your children cope with disparaging comments from their other parent.
Kate Scharff, a divorce expert and therapist writes, “It takes practice, but you can learn to address misinformation about you (and address the emotional damage it causes) without resorting to counterattacks or pulling your kids into an alliance against the other parent.”
Children of all ages sense when their parents are cooperating and this will mean the world to them and help them feel calmer and to have fewer divided loyalties.