Children and DivorceJul 31, 2015 10:39PM ● By Ronnie Kaufman
When parents divorce or separate, there is almost total upheaval and change within the family unit, and all members of the family usually get caught up in the drama and disruption of daily life. Too often, children are left to fend for themselves during a most scary time in their lives, as the foundation of their world collapses and their feeling of family security disappears. This often leaves them with a feeling of abandonment and guilt.
Children experience many of the same changes that parents are also going through. These changes may include moving away from friends, moving to a different house or neighborhood, changing lifestyles (downsizing, having less money), changing schools, losing old friends and making new ones, having more responsibilities, having to follow new rules and having to live in two different places.
During this time, kids need attention, reassurance, guidance and most of all, lots of love to get through the difficult and challenging transition process successfully. Ideally, both parents would provide these things, but that is not always the case. Happily, research shows that it takes just one supportive and loving adult for a child growing up to be happy and well-adjusted in adulthood.
Important Rules for Divorcing Parents
1. See the world through the children’s eyes. Be aware of what it feels like to be a child today.
2. Support kids’ emotions through this difficult time, in spite of your own feelings and circumstances.
3. Parents need to be available to their kids when they need them. They need to become involved in their child’s life.
4. Give kids quality time and quantity time.
5. Hug them and reassure them that they are loveable and loved.
6. Parents should often talk with their kids and enter their world by listening, responding and sharing their emotions.
7. Encourage kids to express their feelings.
8. Maintain structure, routine and discipline.
9. Maintain family traditions. Reassure kids that together they still can be part of a strong, loving family.
10. Be a good co-parent. Parents must find a way to get along with each other so that they can at minimum make scheduling and transitions as smooth as possible for the kids.
11. Don’t put kids in the middle between parents. Don’t ask them to take sides.
12. Do not fight in front of kids. Watching or hearing parents fight hurts, scares and confuses children.
13. Parents need to take care of themselves. When they help themselves, they help their child. Parents need to be emotionally fit and physically healthy to be a good single parent.
The above information is derived from the eight-week Children of Divorce and Changing Families support groups that meets twice a year. It includes support for parents and for kids in age appropriate groups. For more information, visit DivorceRecovery.net.
Since 2005, Ronnie Kaufman has facilitated hundreds of adults through the divorce and relationship process. He offers full-day Divorce Recovery and Healing workshops each month. For more information, email [email protected] or visit Workshop.DesertRanch.com. See ad, page 15.