Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Do's And Don'ts of Divorce With Children

Published:Sunday | August 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMLatara Boodie

Getting a divorce incorporates a number of complex details, which impacts the mental, physical and not to mention the financial well being of both individuals. This phenomenon is a mutual understanding between two persons who have established an agreement that life apart will be more fruitful than a life spent together, regardless of what they have accomplished within their union. For parents who are separating or getting a divorce, it is a heartbreaking experience because their actions have a direct impact on the life of their child.

However, in the eyes of a child, the situation is far more concrete and seen as a self-centered move designed to destroy the family dynamic which they have been cocooned within and view as a security blanket. There is no magic wand that can ease the distress a divorce/separation can have on a child, but there are steps parents can take to minimise the discomfort they will experience. Here are six dos and don'ts that will lessen the impact of a separation/divorce on your child.

 

Don'ts

 

 

1. Argue in their presence

 

Family tension is one of the main causes of stress among children. When children witness an active disagreement between their parents they start to question the meaning of love and their source of happiness. They begin to overanalyse situations between both parents that they will never be able to understand. This reduces the focus on their academics, impacts their social life and in severe cases can lead to depression. Minimising confrontations in their presence will help them focus on living their own lives.

 

2. Tell them to pick a side

 

Asking a child to choose which parent they would rather live with can be detrimental to the child's emotional well-being. To them, this is equivalent to choosing who they love more which is an unnecessary burden to place on a child.

 

3. Criticise your ex-partner

 

Put yourself in the child's position. To them, mommy or daddy is someone that loves them completely, and someone they can depend on for anything. They are only privy to the positive nurturing and parental aspects of your ex-partner. Hearing the negatives associated with being a husband/wife will introduce an identity and influence their opinion on someone they consider an idol. Whatever negative feelings you may have about your ex, keep them at bay until the child is old enough to formulate their own opinion.

 

Dos

 

 

1. Be Open and Talk

 

Communication is crucial for children during a separation/ divorce. Your child not only needs to know what is going on but needs to feel comfortable enough to ask questions about the situation. During active communication, respect needs to be reinforced by both parents and there needs to be some level of civility.

 

2. Reassure Them

 

Reassure them that they will still be loved and cared for by both parents. Parents need to make an effort to be a part of their child's life, even if they are no longer living in the same household. Be reliable about arrangements made to see your child and spend time with them.

 

3. Minimise Changes

 

Maintain rules and routine to reinforce that boundaries still exists despite living in separate homes. Try not to spoil children to gain favouritism or one up the next parent by fawning your child with material goods. During this period, children need love, reassurance and support, not material things to fill the gap created by a divorce/separation.

lataraboodie@gleanerjm.com