- Realize that it’s not about you. This is so critical that it bears repeating … it’s not about you! Your children need your love and support, especially during times of change. It’s your job to provide that love and support. If possible, choose a divorce process that keeps your children out of the middle. Do whatever is necessary to get over the reasons for the divorce. You will be a healthier person if you can find a way to let go of past resentments. If you need help doing so, find a good therapist and do the work. If you’re reluctant to do it for yourself, do it for your kids!
- Set a positive tone. Your attitude toward life is contagious and your children will “catch it.” Tune out our culture’s message that divorce is always bad for kids. Tune out the negativity expressed by well-meaning friends and family, who may be more than eager to share their stories. Work on reducing your reactivity to everyday situations through relaxation, mediation or yoga. Your kids are watching you to gauge how things are going. Show them that you’re all right. This doesn’t mean pretending that all is perfect. Life presents many challenges. Divorce can be an opportunity for you to model resiliency.
- Listen. Make time each day to be fully available to each of your children. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of normal, everyday life. This is especially true when you’re in the process of redefining “normal.” Turn off the TV and cellphones for a few minutes each day so that you have each other’s undivided attention. Encourage your child to share her feelings and experiences. Ask open-ended questions, which invite sharing without pressuring them. Regular check-ins will make it more natural for your children to express themselves when they experience problems.
All of us want to be the best parents we can be. We want our children to feel loved and supported. We want to share with them their disappointments as well as their successes. When parents divorce, the family faces new challenges. Parents can feel overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable emotional and financial issues needing resolution. However, divorce does not excuse you from performing the most important job of your life: parenting your children. Much of the advice about co-parenting deals with your relationship with your former spouse. However, you alone can powerfully influence your children’s divorce experience. Here are three important actions you can take to help your children adjust to the transition from one household to two: