The divorce is finally over! Now, it’s time to pick up the pieces and begin a new life for yourself. As a parent, you are undoubtedly most concerned with ensuring that this new phase also brings a sense of stability for your children. How do you create an environment that propels everyone in a healthy, happy way moving forward?
How To Provide a Secure, Loving Home For Children After Divorce
1. Tell Them You Love Them, Often!
Your children mean everything to you and you want them to know that the divorce is not their fault. Most of your efforts will be spent making sure they are okay during the transition. Your actions will show that you care about them, however actually hearing the words, “I love you” can create an added sense of comfort. So, take a moment to look them in their adorable little eyes and say, “I love you.” You will both feel better as a result!
2. Make Time for Quality Time.
You may be feeling completely overwhelmed post-divorce. My children were ages 8, 4 and 2 at the time of my divorce. I’d always valued spending quality time with them, however after the separation, I had to learn to balance my time so that they each got the individual attention they needed. As you’re thinking about the various things that you need to accomplish in a day and wondering where an outing to Chuck E Cheese could possibly fit in, remember that it doesn’t always have to be a full day of activities to qualify as quality time.
Try modifying your schedule by just a few minutes to incorporate simple, manageable routines. For example, I started a practice of letting one child stay up for thirty minutes after I put the other children in bed. It allowed me the opportunity to have some one on one time talking, reading a book, or doing a craft activity with each of them individually.
3. Practice Honest Communication.
It will be important that the children feel comfortable talking to you about their feelings. Keep the lines of communication open by not being defensive or judgmental if they express something that they do not like. For younger children, I’ve found it helpful to use children’s books that spark dialogue about the divorce process. If there will be changes in their normal routine, alert them to the upcoming change. Answer their questions honestly and with age appropriate responses.
4. Be Consistent!
Structure and routine give children a sense of security. It also helps parents to maintain consistency in stated expectations. Let’s face it, we all experience a desire to overcompensate based upon feelings that the children have endured a lot throughout this process. Resist the urge to alter household rules and structure out of post-divorce guilt. Maintaining a structured and predictable routine can actually improve your child’s behavior and create a healthier household environment.
5. Positivity Matters!
It is important that your children see you happy. This starts by avoiding conflict at all cost. Do not involve children in adult matters or post-separation conflict with your ex-spouse. Even in situations where you suspect that the other parent is engaging your children in negative conversation in an effort to force them to pick a side, always take the high road. Your children will respect you for it and will begin to reflect your positive attitude as the entire family moves toward healing.
6. Seek Counseling and Other Sources of Support.
Pay close attention to any changes in behavior. Seek the services of professional agencies who specialize in helping children cope with divorce, and actively participate in the counseling process. Also, garner the support of friends, family and utilize community resources. Do not be afraid to try different methods and services until you find one that fits the needs of your family. Remember that you are the best advocate for your children.