Dealing with the heartbreak of divorce is hard — but watching your child suffer along with you may be even harder.
However, psychologists say that it is possible to help your child recover from the emotional trauma of divorce without any lasting damage. You just have to keep a few important things in mind:
1. Your child needs both parents
You and your spouse divorced each other — but your child didn’t divorce either of you. Whenever possible, parents should agree to work together after a divorce where their child is concerned. Make room for your ex in your child’s life.
2. Your child needs security
This means a couple of different things. First, make sure that your child knows that he or she isn’t to blame for your breakup. Reassure your child that your love for him or her hasn’t changed.
Second, insulate your child from the ugly details of your divorce. Don’t bad-mouth your ex in your child’s hearing — and don’t let anyone else do it, either! Don’t talk about legal issues or money worries that relate to the divorce unless something absolutely has to be addressed. Only talk to your child about what changes he or she will see — and always stress the positives.
3. Your child needs you to be as predictable as possible
Now is not the time to celebrate your freedom — no matter how much you’re aching to try. Until your child is on stable ground again, stay home, stay away from new relationships and keep the family routine as calm and normal as possible. There will be plenty of time to enjoy your new life down the road.
4. Your child needs to express his or her feelings
Talk to your child about his or her feelings. Ask questions so that your child knows that it’s okay to talk about what he or she is thinking. If you aren’t sure how to talk to your child about his or her feelings, it may be time to head to a therapist’s office for a few sessions.
Depending on your child’s needs, it may ultimately be necessary to make adjustments to your parenting plan. If that happens, find out more about your options as quickly as possible.