Presentation on theme: "While divorce is stressful for children, research has found that the way parents handle the divorce process influences their child’s adjustment. Children."— Presentation transcript:
While divorce is stressful for children, research has found that the way parents handle the divorce process influences their child’s adjustment. Children are better adjusted if parents minimize the conflict and work together to help children deal with their new living situation. It is best to share the news of a separation before it happens. It’s also best if both parents are present when telling your child what is happening. Parental feelings need to be kept under control during this time. Provide a simple explanation such as “Mom and dad are not getting along and need to live in different homes. “ Make sure kids know that you both love them. In addition, kids often think divorce is their fault. Assure them that they did not cause the divorce. Tell children how the divorce will affect their lives such as where they will live, what school will they attend, and how often will they see each parent.
Children will react to your news in a variety of ways, depending on the home situation and their age. Some may show anger, others will cry, others may be in shock and say little. Some may have many questions. Answer their questions honestly without giving too many details that are adult in nature. Divorce is a grieving process for children. They may go through periods of denial, sh0ck, and anger before they come to acceptance. Children in the early elementary years are just learning to verbally express their feelings. Allow them to express their feelings without being critical of them. Let them know you will accept them. Sometimes it is good to have another adult they can talk with such as a grandparent, relative, or school counselor. If they can’t talk about their feelings, they may show certain behaviors. They may become moody, withdrawn, or argumentative. Their grades may suffer because they are thinking about their family situation. So, it is a good idea to inform your child’s teacher about the divorce. This will help the teacher to better understand your child’s behavior.
Children have a strong need for their family to remain together. Often they fantasize about mom and dad getting back together. You may say, “I know you want our family to be the way it was. But mommy and daddy are not going to live together. We will both always love you.” Children sometimes believe the divorce is their fault. They often think they have power to cause events. Reassure your child that the divorce is not their fault. Children are usually loyal to both parents. They should not be asked to choose between parents or put in the position of taking sides. The living arrangements you choose will affect your child’s relationship with each parent. Often the child will miss the other parent when they are not with them. You can help by allowing phone calls or letters to the absent parent. Children may express anger to either parent. Although it may be hard to hear this, it is a normal part of the healing process. Allow them to express their anger without judging them. Younger children need a sense of security. When there is a divorce, their sense of security is challenged. They may not want to leave you—they have lost one parent, they don’t want to lose another one. They may have nightmares for a while. Just be there to reassure them.
Children in the upper elementary grades are better able to express their feelings. It is important for them to discuss their feelings with you or another trusted adult. Children may have torn loyalties when spending time with both parents. They want to please both parents. It hurts your child for one parent to express bad feelings toward the other parent. School is a very important part of a child’s life. If possible, allow your child to remain in his/her current school. It is helpful for your child to attend a support group for children of divorce. Contact your school counselor for suggestions. Try to keep your child’s daily routine as normal as possible. This helps your child make a better adjustment if he/she has fewer disruptions in daily life.
Deciding on living arrangements and visitations can be very tricky. In some situations one parent moves away and is not involved in parenting. You may need to help your child deal with a sense of abandonment. Avoid saying negative things about the absent parent. Continue to reassure them that you will not leave them. The decision about living arrangements should be the parents’ responsibilities. Children feel guilty if asked to choose between parents. Also, a 50-50 split between parents may not be the best arrangement for children. Consider the following: *Is the arrangement confusing for the children? *Will the arrangements affect your child’s ability to complete their school work? *Does the arrangement allow for normal sleep and meal times. *Will the arrangement interfere with your child’s social relationships? *Will your child still be able to participate in school activities? *Are both homes able to safely provide for your child’s basic needs?
Children need consistent rules. Talk with your ex-spouse to discuss ways you can be consistent between homes. Children should have clothes and toys at both homes. This helps them to feel comfortable at either home. Minimize stress at transition times. Have a consistent plan for dropping off and picking up your child. Be cordial with your ex-mate. The visit will start off on a negative note if children see parents fighting during the transition times. Don’t make your child feel guilty about going to visit the other parent. If they see you unduly upset, they may feel guilty while visiting the other parent. Children may avoid visiting their parent so they do not upset you—this is not good for their normal development. Don’t ask your child to deliver messages to your ex-spouse. While you can make general inquiries about the visit, children should not be pumped for information about what goes on during the visit.
Single parenting offers many new challenges such as new child care arrangements, tighter finances, more responsibility, and changes in work schedules. Since you will be under more stress, you need to think about taking care of yourself. If you have family members in the area, call on them for support. If not, there are many community support groups which may help you through this time. Check with churches, community centers, hospitals, or private counselors for group times. One of the best ways to help your during divorce is for you and your ex-spouse to resolve the anger and resentment you have toward one another. Support groups can help you work through these issues. Children need structure and stability during divorce. Try to keep the same meal and bedtime routines. It is also important that children attend school regularly because school provides children with a sense of security. Continue enforcing your rules. Some parents slack off in enforcing rules. But, children need as much as possible for life to remain as it was before the divorce.
Keeping rules consistent may be difficult when children stay in two homes. Both parents should discuss rules, trying to agree on major issues. Children quickly learn to play one parent against the other. So, ideally you should work out inconsistencies with your ex-spouse. If that is not possible, tell your child that you have certain rules they must follow when in your home. Do not put down your ex-spouse—just enforce your rules. If you only see your child for short periods of time, you will want this time to be enjoyable. However, children still need structure and rules while at your home. Don’t get into the habit of providing many material goods at each visit. Your child wants your attention more than they want material goods. Additionally, it is not fair to the other parent if you provide presents, fun activities, and lax rules every time they visit. Hopefully, these tips have helped you. Call Mrs. Laucks at 637-9000, ext. 400 if you have questions.