In a recent article from The Province, child and parenting behavior expert Priscilla J. Dunstan offers parents advice on how to make sure their kids feel loved and secure through a divorce. Dunstan reminds readers that while adults can see change as a good thing, children might feel that change will lead to the “scary” unknown. Parents will need to convey information to their children during this period in a positive way so that they will change their negative perception.
One of the first things parents should do to help their kids through a divorce is to be mindful of their own visual cues. Eye rolling, frowning, and dirty looks will not go unnoticed by children. Therefore, parents need to keep a positive attitude around their ex, so that children can ease into the separation. Parents should also try to keep their wedding ring on a little longer because it is a symbol of unity the child will be familiar with. Dunstan suggests “When you’re ready, replace it with one you pick out with your child or move it to another finger.”
Children are also likely to pick up on changes in parents’ tone of voice. “If you think a conversation with your ex will end badly, try and have conversations when your kids are not around or go in your car on your cell phone,” Dunstan advises. She explains that kids will feel hopeless and guilty if they hear you yelling at the other parent because they love whoever is on the receiving end, too.
Another way to help children feel loved during a divorce is to keep special events family-based. If your child has a concert or a game, they won’t enjoy it if one parent is excluded. Make sure both you and your ex are aware of upcoming family activities, and remind yourself that you are there to support your child.
Dunstan’s last piece of advice is to stay positive and patient. “Always act in a way you can be proud of,” she says, and remember that children will “copy your behavior in their own relationships. “ While your children are still young now, they will eventually move out when they are older. Parents will want their children to continue their relationship with them beyond leaving the house, so providing a secure and loving environment now can have a long term positive effect on the future for both you and your kids.
Click here to read the full article, “Helping Your Child Feel Secure and Loved Through Divorce.”