In Pennsylvania, there were 32,985 divorces in 2019 alone. Although divorce is becoming more commonplace, it is still a traumatic experience when it hits your family. It also hits kids hard, since they feel helpless in being unable to keep Mom and Dad together or even where they will live. Their whole lives get turned upside down. Here are some tips to help your kids through a divorce.
Show Your Love
It’s not enough to just say “I love you” to your child, although still saying so is recommended. Remember, you also used to say “I love you” to the person you divorced. It can cross kids’ minds that if you stop loving one person, you can easily stop loving them. Spending time with your kids shows them you still love them. Listen to their problems. Apologize for the upheaval that divorce inevitably brings. Go to that soccer game or school play. Show up on time for any parental visits and avoid canceling them. Paying child support also shows committed love. Parents are expected to pay child support until your child turns 21.
Showing your love doesn’t mean throwing money around and buying everything your child wants. This not only leads to financial problems but also spoils your child. They grow up thinking that buying stuff is the answer to all of their problems. They also may learn to throw tantrums when you suddenly can’t buy them anything because of money problems. This leads to fights. Your child then may try to play one parent off of the other by making one parent buy something that the other said no to.
Learn to Be Flexible When It Comes to Visits
Although routines are important in giving a child a sense of stability, there will always be times when your ex cannot visit due to job commitments, illness, or accidents. Don’t just sit there and badmouth your ex. It does not make your child feel any better. Not only does he or she has to deal with the disappointment of a canceled visit, but also has to put up with you being upset. Always have a backup plan for a canceled visit. Always ask your child what he or she wants to do, instead. Try to get as close as you can to your child’s wants.
Children will be disappointed if a long looked-forwarded visit is canceled. Let kids express his or her feelings and listen to complaints or tears. Do not try to make them feel guilty by comparing their lives to kids that have it much worse. If you have to get a babysitter for your child because of your missing ex, promise your child you will do something special with them later. Make sure you follow through on that promise. Good places to go would be the movies, playgrounds or a special restaurant. Turn off your phone and just focus on your child.
Keep Things As Normal As Possible
Divorce is a time of huge change for you and your kids. They have to learn new routines, learn to not live with a beloved parent and maybe to live in a new house or go to a new school and lose the friends they had. In a time of such change, it’s important to keep routines as unchanged as possible. This gives our child some sense of security. Listen to your child’s complaints about something that has changed, even something minor like changing the brand of snacks you buy. Try to keep things the same whenever possible.
Keep to a pre-divorce schedule whenever possible. If your child always went to bed at 9:00 PM, don’t let them stay awake until midnight in the hope that it would comfort them somehow. Keep going to your favorite restaurants, shops, and parks. If you read to your child every night before the divorce, keep on doing it.
Helping your child through a divorce is sometimes tougher than the divorce itself. As long as your mindful of your child’s needs, you’ll both come out on the other side of this. Who knows? You may end up as one of the 40% of people who engage in remarriage in the future.