Divorce seems to hit children the hardest. Everything in their world seems to be changing. One parent is leaving the home. In some cases, the custodial parent is also relocating and the child is leaving the only home he or she has known. Children can also blame themselves for the divorce, especially if they overhear the parents arguing over something the child has done around the time of the divorce. However, there are ways to lessen the impact and make your child feel more secure during the changes.
- Keep the child’s schedule the same as much as possible.
There is a sense of order when the child gets up at the same time, plays with friends in the afternoon, and goes to bed at the same time. Whatever your child’s day usually entails, try to do the same things at the same times.
- Make sure the child has access to all of their familiar things, at both houses.
He or she can decide what they want to leave at each home so that the child has well-loved items around. This will make the transition more comfortable.
- If at all possible, have a room for the child at the non-custodial parent’s house as well.
Having a place set aside just for them makes children feel welcome when they travel between homes for visitation. If you are the non – custodial parent it is important that you show your child they have a special place in your home.
- Keep your problems to yourself.
Many children get pulled into the turmoil between the parents and are told about adult issues that should not be their concern. Find a friend or counselor to discuss your conflicts with, but don’t force your child to have to deal with your problems. Do whatever needs to be done to keep your conflict with your spouse out of your child’s life.
- Give the child love, attention, and discipline.
Parents may feel guilty because the child is upset during a divorce, and many times may lavish gifts or give special priviledges the child would not normally receive. There is a sense of security in having consistent rules, including consequences of negative behavior. Tell your child both parents love him or her and always will. Assure them the divorce was caused by grown-up issues and not by anything they may have said or done.
- Make sure the child has access to both parents.
The child should know how to reach the non-custodial parent when they need reassurance or feel lonely. Take the time to talk with your child, to spend quality time with the child regularly.