It is easy post-divorce to be in the survival mode and not really notice if there are any red flags regarding your child’s behavior. You both are drifting along finding your footing and discovering new routines. Here’s a list of healthy behaviors that indicate your child is on the right path post-divorce. Wendi Schuller reports for The Huffington Post.
1. Being social. Your child receives calls from friends and keeps up his/her activities with them. Is he going out to movies and events? Is she wanting to play with friends or meet pals at the park? If your child seems more withdrawn and not wanting to hang out with peers, then investigate why. Lack of interest in keeping or making friends can be a sign that something is not right.
2. Expressing opinions on the divorce. It does not matter if they are negative or positive, just that he/she feels free to express his/her feelings. He may have the opinion that his parents are acting stupid and that’s okay. When she utters one word answers to you or does not want to have conversations with others, she could be feeling depressed. A healthcare provider can be invaluable in sorting out if this is a medical issue.
3. Maintaining spirituality. Finding or maintaining spirituality in the midst of a dark situation is a good sign that your kid is doing OK with the transition.
4. No signs of cutting or self-mutilation. Self-mutilation is done when someone is in so much emotional pain that they express this in a physical way. Casually look at your child’s arms to see if there are any scars. Does your child who previously liked to swim now refuse to don a bathing suit? Is your child hiding his/her body in a way he/she didn’t before?
5. Maintaining good grades and turning in projects on time. If school work is slipping and homework is not getting done, have a conference with his/her teacher. Make sure that there are no discipline problems at school or other concerns.
6. Doing chores and what is expected at home. Complaints about these are normal, but extreme avoidance is not. If behavior is belligerent, it’s a red flag.
7. Keeping up with hobbies, sports and other interests. If your child hides out in their room and misses practices, talk with him/her. If he/she no longer wants to do other previously enjoyed pursuits, ask why. Your child may need to meet with a therapist to get some help with this transition.
8. Interacting with people of different ages and cultures. Your child can talk with teachers and older family friends. Connecting with people not in one’s peer group shows that a child is doing well moving on post-divorce.
9. Maintaining friendships. Your child may have a questionable new set of friends or he/she is secretive about new acquaintances or activities, your child may be hiding something. It may be about doing drugs, drinking or precocious sexual activity.
10. Enjoying pre-divorce rituals, like going out to a favorite bakery. He/she still likes doing some things with you, even if it is less time spent with you. He/She does not avoid you like the plague and will go out with you in public.
If you notice drastic changes in a previously pleasant child, then discuss this with his/her doctor. Your child may not want to burden you with additional problems. He/She may be getting into dangerous territory that requires more boundaries. The majority of kids do okay after divorce and adjust to this situation, but it is prudent to keep an eye on them.