Navigating the challenges of parenting is difficult enough when everyone lives in the same house. When parents separate or divorce, those challenges multiply. There are a few things parents can do to ensure that children and teens cope with the stress of a changing family structure and maintain healthy bonds with both parents.
Do love your children as much as possible
Show them your love through words and actions.
Do tell your children divorce is not their fault
Tell your children this repeatedly, they need to hear it more than once.
Do reassure your children that they will be safe
And let them know both parents will continue to provide for them to the best of their ability.
Do let your children know it is okay to love both parents as they did before the divorce
Let kids know the love they have for both parents doesn’t have to change.
Do support your children’s relationship with their other parent
Inform the other parent of special events, school functions or extracurricular activities whenever possible.
Do listen to your children
Honor their feelings without judging, fixing or trying to change how they feel. Remember, your children’s’ feelings don’t have to reflect your feelings.
Do let children know it is okay to express those feelings
Remember, your children will need help learning safe and healthy ways to express their feelings. Be sure to provide them with appropriate options.
Do reinforce that children are members of two homes
Children should not be made to feel guilty or as if they have to choose which is their “real” or “better” home.
Do help children feel like they have a home with both parents regardless of the amount of time spent with each parent
Make sure children feel they have a place in each home that belongs to them even if it is only a section of a room. Giving children the opportunity to offer input or add their own touches to their space can be helpful.
Do provide your children with discipline, as well as love
It might be tempting to go easy on the rules, especially when you see your children less often. But children still need parents to provide structure and limits—especially during difficult times. Be sure to give plenty of love, encouragement, and positive discipline when you spend time together.