Helping your Kids Heal after a Divorce. Part One
Helping your Kids Heal after a Divorce. Part One

11/7/2016

"The kids will be alright, they are resilient."

If you are going through a divorce and you have kids, you have likely heard this or said this to yourself, and prayed that it was true. The hardest thing for a parent is seeing their child in pain, and it’s worse if the pain is caused by your own decision to leave the other parent, or being forced into a divorce. While children are resilient, they do need guidance through a divorce and help avoiding or lessoning its painful effects.

During a divorce, children go through a number of losses. Often, they have to move and leave their homes, schools, friends, and familiar surroundings. Divorce can also be hard on your finances. The same income that you enjoyed in one household is divided by two and it does not go as far. The security and safety of the old life is gone. Children thrive on stability and when that is unsettled, it is hard on them.

There are things that you can do to help protect your children and yourself and start healing for the whole family. Healing after a divorce is a lengthy process. I always tell my clients that it is like going through a death, expect the hurt to last for awhile. Remember that stability is key for children, so stabilize yourself first, then your child.

Find a Group that will Support You.

Your child needs you to be healthy and a support group is a good start. Make sure the group offers you encouragement and not just a place to vent about your ex. You need coping skills and a new way to communicate with your children’s other parent. You need someone to talk to that is not your child. You have to shield them from adult realities, even if they are older. Remember that your ex is always going to be their parent too, and they should never be in a position to have to decide who is right or wrong between their mom and dad.

Ensure that Children Know they are Not to Blame.Children need to be told directly and clearly that they are not to blame for the divorce.Reassure them that they are loved and wanted by both you and the other parent.

Once a decision has been made to separate, tell them the truth clearly so that there are no questions for them. It creates anxiety if children are left to wonder the status of your relationship. If a spouse is leaving for another person, tell the children the truth, say something like, “your mom has decided that she does not want to live with me anymore and that she loves another man. But she still loves you very much and wants you.” Don’t leave the children to wonder who the new man or woman is in the family. It’s not fair to them and they wonder how to treat that person. Children are smart and they know when things are being hidden from them.

If faith in God is part of your family, keep it that way. Don’t lose sight of your beliefs in the divorce. It will help your children adjust and maintain stability in things that are important to them.

Stability is Key.Make changes slowly. If your family structure changes, then give your children time to adjust to it. Try to minimize the changes as much as possible. It is already going to be a huge adjustment living away from one parent for part of the time. It would be even harder to lose friends and family. Familiar surroundings remind them that not everything has changed just because you and your spouse are divorcing.

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