After a divorce, children will need to learn a new normal. It’s up to the parents to help them understand how things have changed and, specifically, how things won’t change. There are a few things you can do to encourage your kids to embrace their new situation with positivity. In this post, you’ll find advice written for older children that you can share with your kids as appropriate for their stage of development to give them the tools they need to navigate their new co-parenting experience.
Encourage Them to Talk about It
When parents split up, it’s okay to have different and even conflicting feelings. It’s a stressful situation, and it’s okay that your kids don’t know how to handle everything that happens. Neither do you. They may feel shocked or angry. They may also blame themselves and feel guilty, even if they don’t express that to you. These feelings are normal, but they aren’t all necessarily right. The best way to work through the feelings is to talk about them. If they can’t talk to you as their parents, make sure they have access to another trusted adult like a therapist.
Don’t Allow Them to Pit Parents Against Each Other
It’s sometimes very easy to play one side against the other. It happens in homes without divorce, too. But pitting one parent against the other can cause a ripple effect that can follow the family for a very long time. As parents, you only want to make sure your children feel happy and cared for, so don’t let them take out their anger and weaponize your love for them against each other. Let them know its okay to feel angry and upset, but find ways to work out these feelings constructively.
You have set behavioral boundaries for your kids. Now, allow them to send boundaries in your relationship. Give them the ability to speak up of they feel uncomfortable. Don’t speak poorly about the other parent and make sure your kids know that if you slip up, they can say something. They can also have appropriate levels of privacy in both homes.
Present a United Front
It’s common for kids to pull back after their parents separate. If you are experiencing this, know that the feelings are normal and valid. You both need to make sure your kids know you love them completely, even if your new partnership looks a little different. Be as involved in your child’s life as they will allow, including appearing at events with your former partner when it will give your children the positive reinforcement that they need.