In a recent post, we discussed an article by noted California-based clinical psychologist Joan B. Kelly, Ph.D., which is an excellent overview of how separated parents can help make the transition go more smoothly for their children. The previous post listed five tips for helping children cope. We now present five more tips.
- Be the best parent you can be: We are all human, and the process of divorce is one of the most challenging events in most individuals’ lives. There is the sting of a failed marriage, a huge shift in finances, and the fact that you will need to continue to co-parent with your ex. You also need to continue to act as a responsible parent who has continued expectations for school and behavior, dispenses appropriate discipline when necessary and nurtures children when they need it. This all will provide stability in an unstable time.
- Take care of yourself: Seek help if you have feelings of anger, depression or anxiety. By taking care of yourself, you are better able to care for others.
- Maintain important relationships: Ensure that the children continue to see grandparents, other family members (including ones from the ex’s side) and important friends. Children need that stability and continued support network to help cope with the transition to this new reality.
- Be mindful of integrating romantic interests: Every kid is different, but be careful of introducing a string of love interests who do not last. Also be mindful of the fact that young children can often adopt an emotional attachment to these people. The child’s disappointment can lead to depression or lack of trust.
- Pay your support: Either child support or spousal maintenance, it is crucial that financial issues should have very little an impact upon the family, even if your ex is making life difficult. Your job here, and in all things related to your children, is to let them know that you care about them, want to keep them safe, and don’t want to cause additional conflict or stress. It’s a life lesson they will appreciate later on.
While these tips may seem simple and/or commonsense, it’s important to remember that saying something is one thing; following through with it is another. The reward is the fact that the transition will go more smoothly and the children will have a better chance at initiating and maintain their own positive relationships and marriages. Family law attorneys can also help during this time of transition by maintaining or encouraging a civil tone even during the most difficult points in the divorce process.