Whether you’re the custodial or non-custodial parent, you have to be willing to help your child work through their anger over your divorce.
Divorce can bring out the worst in people. It can cause an exceptional parent to lose focus on what is best for his/her children, which in turn can cause the children to feel mistreated. And, before you know it, you’ve got an angry child on your hands.
It’s been my experience that the vast majority of children adjust well to their parent’s divorce if the parent is able to keep their children’s wellbeing first and foremost during the transition.
I’m not saying you’ve done something wrong to cause your child’s anger BUT, if your ex has, it may be up to you to undo the damage.
A parent can turn their child’s anger over the divorce into acceptance of the divorce if they are there to help their child cope with the stress of divorce. It’s important that divorced parents put away their own anger and hurt feelings in order to heal the relationship with their child.
A parent needs to set standards for themselves that will help meet their child’s needs. These standards, along with the help of a therapist can be very helpful when attempting to heal a relationship with an angry child.
Here are 11 tips for dealing with your child if they are angry about your divorce.
1. Love your child and be there for them even if their words are hurtful. It’s important to remember that your child’s feelings, regardless of how negative are more important than your feelings.
2. Show your child love by expressing it. Show love by your words and actions when you talk to him/her, no matter how hurtful you feel they are being toward you.
3. Hold your child accountable but do not abandon them because the pain is too much for you to deal with. Be there to show them what is and isn’t proper behavior. As a parent, it is your responsibility to be available for your child and to take the low-blows until the issues have been worked out. You don’t get to avoid your child or the anger your child is feeling.
4. If they won’t communicate with you write them letters on a regular basis. Keep a connection going, even from a distance. With technology, it is easy to reach out to a child who is refusing to communicate. Send a weekly text or email to reassure the child you love them and will be there when they are ready to communicate.
5. Show an interest in their life, ask what they are doing and how they are feeling.Don’t allow your new life to cause you to lose interest in the needs of your children. You may have a new love interest and that may go a long way in distracting you from the fact that your child is angry. Just keep in mind that no relationship is as important as the relationship you have with your child. So, don’t put new relationships before mending the fractured relationship you have with an angry child.
6. If the anger continues, be willing to go to therapy with your child. Show your child that you will stop at nothing to rebuild your relationship. If your child refuses to go to therapy with you, go alone. If your child is that angry, you will benefit from talking to a trained professional who will help you deal with the pain and stress.
7. Don’t internalize and take things your child says personally. Keep in mind that the anger is coming from fear of losing you as a parent.
Wear a thick layer of emotional armor but, don’t allow disrespect for who you are as a parent.
8. If your child has questions and needs to talk about the divorce be willing to listen and respond. You need to try and see things from their perspective. And, tune them out will only cause the anger to grow and them to lose trust in you.
9. Ask other family members to intervene. Ask them to talk to your child in a positive manner about the importance of the parent/child relationship. Only ask one or two, though. You don’t want the entire family ganging up on your child. Keep it simple!
10. Heal your own pain. You may feel rejected and hurt but it’s important you stay strong for your child’s sake.
11. Do not put new relationships before the relationship with your child. Even if you meet someone new, continue to live in a way that lets your child know they are your number one priority.
A single parent support group can be key to the survival of your relationship with your child. Talking and sharing ideas with parents who are experiencing the same problems will generate new options and ways to deal. Don’t bottle up your feelings and refuse to talk about them or deal with your children’s anger. You stand to lose the most important relationship you have if you do.