We have given some great information this week on helping your children to cope with divorce. It is very important to go back and read the previous blogs- they are FULL of information and it builds on each other. Today I want to focus on the child's feelings and how important it is to reassure them. Make sure you allow them to talk about their feelings. It is very important for you to offer a forum for your kids to be real and honest with you about how they feel with all the changes going on around them. Make sure you give them permission to be sad, angry, hurt, or betrayed. Don't get defensive if they are upset with you. Validate their emotions with phrases like: "I know this is hard for you. You can tell me more if you like". Don't try to "fix" them or talk them out of their feelings. Just let them feel them (part of their grieving process) and talk about them. Don't make it about YOU! Many parents will use this as an opportunity to start sharing their pain as well. This is not appropriate. Your child needs you to focus on them and what they are feeling. When they are done telling you their feelings, then ask them, "Is there anything you need from me? I am here if you do." This lets them know you are open to hearing more if they would like to talk.
Reassure your child. Don't assume that your child "knows" you love them. They might not trust what they know anymore because everything is totally changing. What they once thought they knew (Mom and Dad will always be together) they can no longer trust. So they may question your love for them as well. Tell your child several times a day that you love them and will be there for them. This could be in multiple ways besides just verbally- leaving notes, spending quality time with them etc. However they receive love is good, as well as reassuring verbally. Stay involved in their life. Don't avoid your child's activities for fear of seeing your ex. Your child will be the one that suffers if you do.
It can be very difficult to navigate thru all this. It may feel overwhelming on top of being overwhelmed with your own grief. Remember, you will not be perfect. If you make a mistake, learn from it, apologize, and move forward.
Tomorrow Joleen will help with more tips as well as some great book recommendations. If you are going thru a divorce, and you feel too overwhelmed, give us a call. We all are experts in divorce recovery for adults and children. Thank you for reading!
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville