Divorce is a big adjustment for a child and doesn't end their relationship with the other parent. Your own emotions or your ex-spouse's behavior may make it a challenge to talk with your child about the other parent. Here are some tips:
Don't alienate. The bond your child shares with your ex-spouse is a parent-child bond separate from the behavior your ex-spouse chooses. Discuss concerns with your ex-spouse directly, rather than with your child. Focus on your child's behavior and response to situations, rather than what your ex-spouse has done.
Was that a good choice or a bad choice? How do you know? What were the positive outcomes? What were the bad consequences? How did that make you feel?
Parental disagreements. Children need to know that disagreements between parents are not their fault, and unrelated to parental love for the children.
“You don't have to worry about that. It is something that your mother and I will work out. We both love you, and we will always love you.”
Realistic expectations. Children naturally want their parents together, and may ask you about when you are getting back together.
“We both love you very much, but we will be living in separate houses from now on.”
Focus on the positive. While your children have the right and need to grieve, you can help calm fears about the future by focusing on the positive aspects of their divorced life.
“There won't be as much fighting, and we will get more one-on-one time together.”
New relationships. Your child may tell you about the new relationships of your ex-spouse. It is important to remain neutral and keep your personal opinions out of the mix. That new person will be a part of your child's life, and it is better to focus on the good things that make your child comfortable while with that person. This will also help your child know that you are available and able to help them with any issue, even ones hard for you personally.
“What's fun about her? What do you like about him? That's nice that he helped you with that project. That's great that she listens to you.”
Ending your relationship with your ex-spouse does not mean they are deleted from your child's life. Your child may still want to talk about the other parent, or issues may come up from experiences during visitation. Using age-appropriate language with a positive focus will keep things focused on the child and model healthy interaction for them.
Emily Christensen, PhD, lives with her husband Nathan in Owasso, Oklahoma. Her doctorate is in marriage and family therapy. Her blog is www.housewifeclass.com, and she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.