Children adjust better than adults. They live in a more up to date world than their parents. More than likely they already know that today’s marriages don’t last. They can grow and expand their life with new adult relationships of both parents, winding up with a double set of parents that care about them. This is much more possible than most realise and yet isn’t accomplished nearly as often as it could be simply because the parents aren’t aware that this needs their careful handling.
Small Bodies – Big Emotions
However, what parents almost always forget is that the kids are going through the same emotional upheaval and have a genuine need to talk it out. We’re not talking about the personal details between Spouses; we talking about the child discussing their take on it all. Because parents are notoriously of little help here, relatives, clergy, counsellors or friends should be asked to assist with this one.
It should sound logical that children of divorce go through almost the same stages of emotional at the divorcing parents. Alas – it’s always a surprise to the parents to hear this. Look at the list below to understand how the kids feel:
Bewilderment - they can’t believe this is really happening
Anxiety - what catastrophe is this going to bring on next
Anger - it isn’t fair
Blaming - they become depressed
Fear - afraid for the future
Loneliness - miss what was
Not necessarily in the same order as the parents but certainly the same feelings. Yet, most people ignore the emotional roller coaster the children are going through. They say the parents are getting divorced, not the children. Strange that, because both parents and children suffer a loss and are thrown into a major change in their lifestyles at exactly the same time.....
Make a Plan With the Kids
The Primary Resident parent can:
Be more understand of the children’s emotional flare up – just as the children need to be more understanding of their emotional roller-coaster.
Reassure them that the missing parent is still their Father/Mother, still love them but are just having a difficult time adjusting.
Set up kid-time at a certain time every day that you really keep to. During this time they can bring up anything they like and say anything they need to and you will give them 100% of your attention.
Make a Plan With Your Ex
Either Parent can:
Call a truce with your Ex. By this we just mean end the divorce war – you’re divorced already so no need to fight anymore.
Don’t say bad things about the other parent – that’s upsetting..
Don’t go the other way and praise the other parent – that’s confusing.
Don’t use the kids as your spies to report back any info about the Ex.
Don’t use the kids as bargaining tools when dealing with your Ex.
Fully respect and honour visitation rights with the other parent. If the kids want to be with the missing parent, or the missing parent wants to be with the kids, try to accommodate their wishes even if it inconveniences you. Encourage the children to spend as much time as possible with the missing parent and encourage the missing parent to see the children as often as possible also.
If you are the missing parent, instead of just taking the children when you want to or when it is convenient for you, cooperate and offer to take the children when the custodial parent wants to be free of them for various reasons or times.
Once the missing parent gets the message that they can see their children as often as they want to, and the children know that they can see the missing parent as often as they want to, then it take the fear and frustration out of the divorce aggravation and has a nice bonus.
You will find this an aggravation in itself but if you can grit your teeth and take the higher moral road, then your Ex and children will soon both get tired of this privilege and eventually it will all die down and revert back to standard times.
Further, the missing parent must learn that when they agree to a time, they keep, respect and honour the arrangement. Accept some of the responsibility. Always be on time and you will get co-operation when you also need it. Otherwise they are courting lack of co-operation in the future.
Traps Not To Fall In To
Don’t become supermom or Disneyland dad once you’ve split. The mother who treats her kids as thought they are now her whole life, or the father who tries to make up for his absence by taking the kids to exciting places are leading the kids into a world of make believe.
What the children really need is each parent at different times to spend time with them and give them much needed attention. Remember children’s wants and needs are two entirely different things.
If the divorce is new, avoid talking to the kids about your dating again – giving them time to adjust to one change before being presented with another one.