During separation or divorce, ex-spouses are forced to turn their attention to numerous life-altering changes. Both parties are struggling to balance priorities and make important decisions. In the process, it can be easy to overlook the emotional needs of the children. Our post this week looks at a few tips to help parents support children as the family adjusts to a new stage in life.
Encourage Good Communication
Be honest with your children about what is going on and what they can expect to happen. However, be judicious about how much to reveal – the younger the child, the less detail they need. When discussing the separation with children, do so together as parents.
Allow your children to express their feelings, but keep in mind that they are still developing emotionally. Listen carefully and patiently. If a child reacts in a strong or unexpected way, resist the urge to overreact. Let them talk and try to answer their questions to the extent possible.
Set A Good Example
Even though conflict may exist, do not argue in front of the children. Instead, strive to be polite and respectful to each other. Avoid disparaging the other parent or using children as go-betweens to pass messages onto each other. This will help provide a more stable backdrop for the child to adjust emotionally.
Provide Reassurance And Security
Children often blame themselves for a family breakdown. Help them understand that it is not their fault. Reassure them that both of their parents will continue to love and care for them even after the separation.
Despite the changes, keep up as many former routines as possible. Buy out time to engage in positive activities together with each child.
Seek Outside Help
Watch out for signs that your child is not coping well. These may include depression, problems at school, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping or aggressive behaviour. If you are having difficulty providing the needed support, reach out for help. You family law lawyer may be able to direct you to therapists, social workers or other professionals.