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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Introducing Divorce

When introducing your child to the idea of divorce, there are several things you can do to help him/her through the process.
  • Listen - he/she will have questions and may very well feel confused. Listen with an open & honest ear. Share your feelings & embrace your child's as well. Let your child know what feelings are normal, and help your child understand you acknowledge his/her feelings.
  • Tell him/her what to expect - If you are a parent, share with your child their schedule if they will be going to two different homes. Help him/her make a list of things they would like to have at both homes. Bring personal items to both homes, i.e. pictures, special toys/stuffed animals, music, etc. Talk about who will drop him/her off to school, what house he/she will be sleeping at, etc.
  • Give your child tools to cope - Talk to your child about what they can do when times get tough. Journaling, going to a "special" spot in the home, looking at a photo album, reading a book, painting, etc are some ways to release these emotions in a healthy manner.
  • Explain to your children that divorce is forever (usually). They do not initially understand that their parents will not get back together in the future. Tell your child why it is not helpful to stay together for him/her. They may think, "shouldn't they stay married for me?" and it's imperative to teach them the reasons this is not healthy for them or you.
  • Your love for your child does not change when your love for your spouse may; children need to hear this. Have multiple conversations about your unconditional love for them, i.e. "no matter what mom and dad are going through, we will both love you forever - no matter what. Nothing will ever change that!". The security of your child will be tested when a divorce is in progress, so it's necessary to focus on expressing your love physically and verbally to eliminate any guilt or blame and foster positive and peaceful thoughts from your child.

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