Parental Guide - Helping
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP OUR CHILDREN DURING OUR DIVORCE?
Try not to argue and fight in front of your children, particularly about issues concerning them. Children become very distressed by conflict and it is much better for them if they are able to see you both reach a compromise or resolution whenever possible. This also helps them to see that there are ways to resolve difficulties and they can use these methods as they grow up.
If possible support your children in keeping to the same routines, friendships, schools and activities. This will provide them with security and familiarity which is important at a time of uncertainty. If you as parents are able to hold to the same this will add to your children’s sense of security and reinforcement of your role as parents. It is important that you are able to talk to each other so that you are able to discuss these issues. Either one or both of you may be feeling very embittered. However, your children still need and love you as parents.
Try to spend time with your children, listening and talking with them. You may be feeling very tired and under pressure and it is often easy to find that although the children are with you, your thoughts are elsewhere or you are just too busy to talk to them. Most children enjoy the attention of a parent who is interested in them, wants to know what they have been doing, listens to their conversation, watches their play and enjoys spending time with them.
However angry and bitter you may feel towards each other, try to separate out your parental role from your relationship as a couple.
If you can value each other as parents and encourage your children to talk about the other parent freely and without condemnation, this helps to retain your children’s self-esteem and a sense of identification with each of you as parents.
If you can encourage your children to love and care for your ex-partner rather than asking them to side with one or other of you, this will reduce their worries about being asked to choose between you.
Similarly encourage them to enjoy themselves when they are with your ex-partner and talk about it on their return. This will mean they are less likely to be troubled by keeping secrets in the hope that they won’t upset you. This may be very hard for you, particularly if you are dealing with the day-to-day problems and the sheer hard work of being a single parent.
Try to avoid using your children as messengers or asking them to find out information for you. This is an uncomfortable role for them. It will feel strange and may make them feel like a spy, even if you are keen to know about how your ex spends his or her time.