By Alisha Bennett, LMSW
This article was originally published on A Child Grows in Brooklyn.
Separation and divorce bring a number of challenges for both partners involved, as there are numerous changes to navigate in order to adapt to a new normal. This can become even more challenging when children are in the picture. Not only are parents experiencing their own feelings of loss, sadness, and anger, but they also worry about their children’s wellbeing and wonder what they can do to best help them through the separation.
Here are some simple starting points for what you can do to support your child during this transition:
- While children do not need the full details of your separation, make sure your children know that you and your former partner still love them and that the separation is not their fault.
- Get yourself adult support. This can come from a close friend, a family member or a therapist. It’s important to have a supportive adult in your life to be there when you need to talk, vent or cry. Try not to let your children be your primary emotional support, even though they may often be the ones that make you feel better.
- It’s okay to be sad and/or angry at your former partner, but try to limit the amount of these emotions that you show your children. Children can become very anxious or worried when they frequently see one or both parents angry and/or sad.
- Avoid arguing with your former partner both on the phone and in person when your children are present. This can cause your children to feel uncomfortable and nervous about what role they should play in these situations.
- Avoid talking negatively about your former partner in front of your children. As angry or upset as you are at that person, they are still mom or dad to your kids.
- Don’t make your children feel like they have to choose between their parents. Let them love your former parter as they did before.
In addition to some of these tips, there are many other ways to support your children. For example, your children’s school may have good resources for you to tap into, such as teachers who can keep an extra eye on your children, or school counselors that can give your children extra support. In addition to getting your children the support they need, don’t forget to take care of yourself! Finding good support for yourself will only help you better care for your children.
Alisha Bennett, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you are looking for support in helping your child through a divorce or separation, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn how therapy might be able to help.