All children deserve to be raised in a loving home with their mother and father as active parts of their life and infinite amounts of love and enrichment. Divorce drastically changes the dynamics of a child’s life, making the climate for healthy development more challenging. This can make parents feel guilty, but there are many important steps that can be taken to ensure children have all they need to remain happy and resilient.
Here are ten things you owe your children following divorce:
1. Access to and a loving relationship with both parents. Numerous studies and personal accounts of children who have suffered from parental alienation syndrome support the fact that children need ready access to both parents and the ability to have a full and loving relationship with them.
Aside from freedom to spend ample time with both mother and father, children need to not be guilted or discouraged from loving or being with the other parent. Children should never be exposed to negative comments about the other parent!
Remember that a child is made from equal parts of each parent, so trashing one parent sends the message to the child that he or she is also a bad person. Keep your frustrations and hard feelings for your ex to yourself!
2. Stability. Children of divorce go through enough transitions and emotional ups and downs, so the last thing they need is a bunch of other chaos in their lives! Try to limit the amount of moves, new partners, changes in school, and other big new things as much as you can. Establish routines and rituals that will provide structure and comfort to your child.
3. The freedom to be children. Kids are not equipped to handle adult problems. Divorce is already a huge life-altering situation to endure. Try to minimize the amount of other heavy issues they have to face, and do not rely on them to help you unpack your emotional baggage!
If you need someone to talk to about your ex and your feelings about the divorce, turn to a friend or find a good therapist! Let children play, be silly, use their imaginations, and revel in the carefree days of childhood while they can!
4. Love and attention. No matter what, children need to know that your love for them is unfaltering. This can be troubling for kids when they witness their parents transform from loving partners to enemies. Your constant assurance will be needed to remind them that they are adored and they will benefit from regular, quality attention to help you remain connected.
5. The ability to be whole. Having one’s parents split apart is a tragic event for a child. Parents will do their best to help children overcome; however, sometimes professional help is necessary to help a child heal and be able to grow to adulthood without lingering issues. If your child continues to struggle with depression, anger, or relationships, they deserve counseling.
6. Security. Life changes will mean new living arrangements, new people in your life, and so on. Make sure to make the kids’ security a priority. Know people well before bringing them into the kid’s lives and be proactive about putting them into potentially dangerous situations. This can happen easier when strapped for suitable childcare or on a more limited budget, just remember that they are counting on you to remain safe.
7. A parent who is really a parent. Some parents go off the deep end after a divorce for many reasons including depression, an urge to feel young and free again, and attempts to forget their pain. For as long as your child is a child, they need a parent, not a buddy, and they do not need to be put in the position to be your parent.
It’s important to have time to do things that make you happy, but when you have children counting on you, this isn’t the time to revert back to crazy high school party days and suddenly start going out all the time or engaging in dangerous or questionable activities. Remember that you are setting a very important example with everything you do.
8 An example of a healthy relationship. You may not have been in the position to model a healthy adult relationship while together with your ex, so if you do begin to date seriously or re-marry, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate how mature adults love and care for one another, settle conflict, and share responsibilities.
9. Demonstration of how to be a strong, healthy adult. As in everything, your children are looking to you as an example for how to live and get along in the world. This is a powerful position to hold and an amazing chance to model a strong work ethic, strong values, compassion for others, positive body image and self-esteem, determination and goal-setting, organizational skills, life skills, money management, and so much more! Rather than buying your kids all the things you wish you had as a kid, instead teach them all the things you wish you had learned going into adulthood.
10. A low-conflict environment. One benefit of divorce is that it will most likely minimize conflict in a child’s life. Studies have shown that children are actually better off with divorced parents instead of in a home with married parents and lots of conflict. As long as you can channel your frustrations with your ex in a healthy manner and keep your interactions with your ex kid-focused and business like, you should be able to deliver a peaceful setting for your child’s upbringing.
With dedication and keeping your child’s needs a primary focus, they can remain happy and resilient through a divorce!