Divorce is a wrenching experience for all family members. Parents are sad at the end of something they thought would be ‘forever’ when they first came together. Children lose their family grouping, in the way they always knew. Now there are two homes, changes in lifestyle, maybe new people in their lives and other adjustments. But, that is not a reason to not continue to raise well adjusted children. It just takes some special attention.
- Know your children, their needs, fears, quirks, strengths and weaker areas. Keep that information in mind as you parent.
- Listen to them before you speak so you know the best way to approach things.
- Individualize them. Pay close attention to their personality, their relationship with both parents, etc. – to share certain information, individualized.
- Be aware of yourself and how you look when you are speaking. Pay attention to your voice, your facial expressions and your body. The body speaks too, hopefully, in sync with what you are saying. You don’t want your body and face to be announcing doom while you are saying that things will get better.
- Don’t limit what your children can express. Hear it all – the sad, the bad, the mad. It will give you important information about they are feeling and what they need. If they can speak, and be heard, about their hurt and anger, they are less likely to act out those feelings.
- Let them know you are deeply listening by repeating your understanding of what they are saying. They can correct you if wrong and appreciate when you are on target. It feels so good to be heard and understood and not shut down.
- Repeat what they have said so they know you listened and heard correctly.
- Speak to what you hear them saying and empathize so they know you are right there with them.
- Be consistent with most of your household rules. A little loosening lets them know you understand but trust they will be OK to carry on as usual. Dropping all rules and tasks sends a message that nothing is the same. Continuing rules offer structure, so important when other things are changing.
- Be the best that you can be…real, maybe vulnerable, but strong and up to the
- challenge. Remember, they do as we do. You are one of their main supports and a major role model role model.
Be sure to utilize your own supports and be kind to yourself. Life does go on and life, after divorce, is a new chapter. You have a lot to do in the writing of it.