Helping Children Through Divorce
Helping children through divorce is difficult but necessary. Coping parents can help to reduce stress by giving emotional support.
Children need to be helped to cope with the parents' divorce. Contrary to belief, they are not resilient and can't recover by themselves. Statistics reveal that 30 percent of children from divorced parents experience some form of depression, were problematic youngsters and as adults, had difficulties in their love lives. Kids whose parents prepared them to handle divorce had successful transitions to cope with their new lives. The parents had the understanding, patience and foresight to anticipate the trauma of change for the child. Coping parents helped to reduce stress by giving emotional support.
Help the child to cope with divorce by discussing the issue for at least a fortnight before the actual separation and new living arrangements arrive. The child needs time to accept the new changes, understand what's going on and be pacified. The child doesn't need to know the details leading to the breakup. Just tell the facts that both parents have to split. Remind the child of the parents' love for her and emphasize that its nobody's fault that the divorce is happening.
Children are frightened by change and how its going to affect them. Inform the child about future living arrangements and the practical, immediate changes. Children see and understand the concrete better. Parents can help the child to cope by maintaining the routine structure of the child's life. Don't change her school, neighborhood environment or disrupt her routines. Give the child time to adjust to the single parent environment, visitation schedules etc. Discuss any fears she may voice to you. Reassure her and give her some extra attention in this upsetting period.
Divorcing parents should play fair to both parties and not incite the child to hate the other. This would confuse the child. If a spouse is irresponsible during the child's visitation, seek professional help. A counselor or lawyer will diffuse the tension of negotiations with ex-spouses.
Divorce often destroys the child's sense of security. The parent having the custody can try to reassure the child and help her through this transition. Give her security by setting routines for wake-up times, bedtimes and plan a schedule. Its comforting for the child to know what to expect.
Maintain a line of communication with the child's teachers. They are the best observers and monitors of the child's behavior. They can help to smooth the rough ride for the child. If necessary, get counseling from a child psychologist.
The last word would be for the parents themselves. They need help, too. This is a trying time to handle dual parenting roles. Get help from family, friends or professionals. If the parent is cared for, h/she will have the strength needed to carry on the journey alone.