Parenting your child while you are going through a divorce can be a challenging task. A divorce is not just a decision that affects the two partners involved but also on the child or children involved. Learn how to parent your child while going through a divorce.
How to be a parent to your child while going through a divorce
A divorce of one’s parents creates emotional and psychological disturbances in the child’s life that affects his/her social and physical life too. Your attitude towards the idea of divorce and the way you are able to convey the same to your children makes a huge impact to their state of mind and determines how they will view the separation too. Children of divorced parents go through a range of emotions from feeling sad, angry, hurt, uncertain, abandoned, helpless, rejected and this in the long run also affects their self-esteem. On the other hand, many children are able to be resilient and adapt to the new change in their life and turn out to be more emotionally matured and independent.
1.Announcing the divorce
During the change of separation it is important for both the spouses to keep in mind to try and keep their personal differences aside and gently give the news to the child together with a common perspective, lest they end up acting out in front of the child by blaming it on each other for the separation. This helps in ensuring that the feelings of trust is preserved in the child for the parents and prevents creating a scenario wherein a child is put in the spot to take sides and develop negative feelings towards a parent. Take this step of announcing the decision of divorce to your child only when it is certain so as to avoid creating false hopes. It is vital to bear in mind the age of the child while conveying the information and to keep it simple, direct and age appropriate. It is necessary to openly discuss with the child about how the divorce will affect their daily life in terms of their schooling, place of stay, change in lifestyle and financial status and meeting arrangements with the other parent. As challenging it may seem, try and keep the routines of the child as close to as it was before the separation came in. This ensures that the feeling of helplessness, anger, rejection, abandonment, insecurity and confusion is kept at bay.
2. Engage with your child
It is important that the parents continue to have conversations with their child regarding the separation and how they are coping up with it, hear about how they feel towards it and what their thoughts on it are. Engage in casual conversations about their daily activities, their day, and provide them a safe space to vent out and deal with the drastic change at their own pace. Equip them with skills so that out in the world when their peers ask them questions, they are able to answer without feelings of shame or guilt. Reassure them of your presence and support for as many times as necessary and address any questions or confusion that they might have about the divorce and the need for it. This will help both the parent and the child to go through the process of managing to deal with the change together.
3. Do not use your child to fight your battle
As partners having your own share of conflicts and differences to sort out, as far as possible, avoid having such confrontational conversations in front of your child. Do not use your child to spy on your partner or convey messages to each other. By dealing with the situation yourself in a mature manner, you will be teaching your child valuable and effective problem solving skills and model emotional maturity. Your personal differences aside, your partner is still your child’s parent. Accept and respect this relation. Explain to your children that despite your own differences with your spouse, the relationship you share with your child will remain the same.
4.Lookout for maladaptive behaviour patterns of your child
A divorce can affect a child in more ways than a parent can imagine from change in their appetite, sleep, mood, social interactions, schooling, aggression, self-harm, substance abuse and other maladaptive behaviour patterns. It is important that you be on the lookout for such differences in their attitudes and actions and instead of resorting to severe forms of punishment or abandonment, try and connect with your child for the same. Seek help from a counsellor or a therapist before the situation aggravates.
5. Plan your divorce
Do not let the separation be abrupt. Plan and prepare along with your spouse while you are deciding to announce the news to your children. Keep the above factors in mind to smoothen the transition. It would help you and your children to adjust to the new conditions of life. Once you successfully live through this phase, your children will be matured enough to handle stress and develop tolerance towards suffering in life. It would help them grow and become flexible adults.
6. DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TOO!
And last but not the least, in the midst of this exhausting phase of life, do not forget to take care of yourself too while struggling to juggle all responsibilities of your life.
If you are going through a rough phase in your marriage and do not know what to do, don’t shy and reach out to mental health professionals for the same. You can write to us at Askmile.com and speak with our counsellors anonymously.