During a divorce a parent’s first priority is usually to make sure that their child is processing everything in a healthy way. They do their best to inform their child or children of what is to be expected during the divorce process, and they remind their children that their parent’s love them no matter what. After the divorce is finalized, the parens probably feel relieved and as if everything can finally settle down. For the child, however, the time after the divorce is equally important to their adjustment.
It is important for parents to pay attention to subtle signs that indicate if their child is coping positively. Here are a few signs that usually mean your child is coping with the divorce:
- Your child is maintaining their own personal behaviors and routine
- Your child seeks affection from both your and your spouse
- Your child is empathetic to other children or pets
- Your child expresses excitement about the future and upcoming events
- Your child is staying involved with activities and friends
- Your child is maintaining their grades and handling their school work
- You child is talking with and asking questions of both of the parents
If you feel your child is not exhibiting these signs, they may not be adjusting positively. Talk with your child about the divorce and enlist the help of a child therapist if necessary. Luckily, in addition to utilizing a therapist, there are many things a parent can do to help their child adjust. Family therapist Isolina Ricci, PhD, offers up several tips on how parents can help children cope.
There are a few things to avoid, according to Ricci. First of all, try not to confide in your child about complicated, adult issues such as money issues or arguments with your spouse, as this can overwhelm your child. In addition, avoid talking bad about your ex in front of your child. Your ex is still your child’s parent, and hearing negative thing about them could confuse and upset your child. Try not to interrogate your child about what goes on when they are at the other parent’s home. If you can help it, put off introducing large life changes to your child during this sensitive time. Do your best to stick to your usual family and community routines.
Do try to keep your parenting consistent. Though you may guilty for putting your child through your divorce, do not compensate by showering them with special gifts or privileges. Your children will feel more stable if your parenting is firm and consistent. Your child will also feel more comfortable having divorced parents if you encourage your child to call the other parent to talk or share news with. Your child will appreciate it if they do not feel as if they are pitted against their parents. Keep the other parent informed about school events and activities, so your child continues feeling as if both parents are a consistent part of their life. Lastly, do not be afraid to seek assistance in helping your child cope, through a therapist of another organization.