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Helping Children through Divorce or Separation


separated parents
Robyn's Nest Related Articles:
Communication for Separated Parents
Kids Under Stress
Divorce:Getting Kids out of the Crossfire
Parenting Responsibility Does NOT end at Divorce
Is Divorce Ever Private?


children and divorce separation

Hopefully this experience will not happen, but too often it does. Parents separate and/or divorce and find they have to deal with their children and each other in a whole new light. There are things you can do to help your children during these extremely trying times:

   -   Try to be as honest with your children as possible. (Except when to do so would injure them.) When in doubt, discuss it with someone you trust first. Children can sense emotions in parents anyway. Let them know it's okay with lots of hugs and kisses. You can do this by identifying with their plight. ("I am sad too.")
   -   Be aware of your child's feelings of anger and sadness. Allow them to express their pain. Try to give them healthy outlets for their anger or sadness. Perhaps have them draw a picture of how they feel.
   -   Try to tell your children what will happen next in terms they can understand. For example: "We are going to move into a new apartment in two weeks." Knowing what to expect will make their transition easier. Give them lots of hugs and kisses.
   -   Tune in to your child's outbursts. A lot of the time, frustration over a computer game is the way a child transfers his aggression to a "safe" outlet. Perhaps talking to them to help them identify how they really feel and then you have an opportunity to help them deal with it.
   -   Take the time to talk and listen to your children. Even though this is a difficult time for the adults, the children are innocent parties involved. Be adult enough to be the parent.
   -   Make a rule in the household that anyone can call their dad or mom anytime they want. (Except of course if the relationship was abusive or dangerous.)
   -   Keep your child's boundaries the same as before the change and during and after the transition period. If bedtime was 9:00 p.m. it should remain 9:00 p.m. This gives children security.
   -   You may want to give your children something to look forward to (like "We can decorate your room in airplanes now!") If you must leave the home with your child. Try to refrain from spoiling or overcompensating. If your child is not relocating, refrain from making changes to his environment immediately.
   -   Children take their cues from their parents. If you bad-mouth your ex, they might just take the same attitude. The child is unconsciously aware that they are a part of both parents. If you give the message that one parent is "bad", the child may believe that he/she is "bad" too. So, be cautious of what you say about your former spouse around your kids. They overhear parts of telephone conversations and put two and two together. Remember that these are adult issues and should not be put on the kids.
   -   Inform the child's teacher of the changes going on. They are trained to help detect problems before they become overwhelming. Also, they can help to guide your child with finding healthy outlets for his/her feelings.
   -   If the change involves relocating your home, away from family, and away from friends, try to keep your child connected with familiar people and places. Perhaps keep something constant in his/her life, like a school, teacher, playmate, or family member.
   -   Encourage grandparents (especially non-custodial grandparents) to spend time with the child. This will help the child to see that, "No matter what, I am loved." Suggest the grandparent and the child sends cards, e-mail, pictures, schoolwork, and letters to help them stay connected.
   -   Remind your child that Mommy and Daddy love him/her. No matter how you feel about your spouse or ex, your child needs to be told that you both still love him/her. Reinforce this with lots of hugs and kisses.
   -   Get help if you need it. And we mean ANY HELP YOU NEED. Baby-sitters, counselors, support groups, lawyers, or any other people who can help you keep your head together during a crisis. Help can be sought through churches, schools, physicians, or your local telephone book. More articles and resources can be located under Legal Aide

Divorce or separation, especially where children are involved, is very difficult. Remember that you are only human. All you can do is your very best. Progress, not perfection! This rule also applies to your children.

Robyn's Nest Related Articles:
Communication for Separated Parents
Kids Under Stress
Divorce:Getting Kids out of the Crossfire
Parenting Responsibility Does NOT end at Divorce
Is Divorce Ever Private?


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