Raising Children in the Midst of Divorce Children are the most innocent victims of divorce. They become of the center of battles over child custody, support and visitation. Divorce changes their lifestyle, because they now have to share their time between mom and dad and have to deal with everyday stresses of the parents.
Because each child reacts differently, you might sometimes question your abilities as a parent. If your ex is always picking on you and finding fault, this can reduce your self-confidence as a parent. Talking to others going through the same situation can help regain your bearing, plus give you different ways to deal with the inevitable stress that is upon you.
Helping children cope is important because children model future behavior on current experiences. If possible, both parents should tell the children about the divorce and emphasize that both parents made this decision. Stress that it is not the fault of the children and they did nothing to cause the situation. Do not provide details that can be too much for young children to understand.
If they will be living in a different location, they need to know where, what school they will attend and when they will be visited by the other parent. The more information you can provide, the more comfortable they will feel with the changes taking place. Don’t let them make the decision of where to live, it is up to you and your spouse.
No matter what happens, always stay positive about the other parent. Children need both parents. Just because your spouse was not a good spouse to you, does not mean that she/he is not a good parent for her/his child. Your job is to foster a healthy relationship.
If the divorce severs the relationship between a child and one of the parents, do not say bad things about the parent. Help your child find ways to make sense of the situation. Dad is sick right now and needs to go to the hospital to get well. Even though he can’t be there for you right now, know that he loves you. This is code for dad is an alcoholic and is in the hospital. The older the child gets, the more detailed your answers can become. Try to stay neutral and help your child understand that the other parent cares.
Children become quite emotional during this time and it is necessary to provide them with your attention and with the answers they are seeking. They may become withdrawn and lose interest in hobbies, school and friends. Your encouragement is what they need to stay on track.
The break down of a family requires a major adjustment, but, with time, it can all work out. Drawing upon the supports we need and re-establishing our typical routines can speed up the process quite a bit. Try not to use the children as your support group. Find the support of other adults. And, when you do start dating again, do not introduce the children to your date until you are committed to that person.
Struggling with the choices you are making while raising children in the midst of a divorce? Help is available. Call today and speak with a counselor at the Center for Growth / Relationship Therapy in Philadelphia. 267-324-9564.