When you are going through divorce, you face all kinds of new challenges. There is the challenge of coping with your own emotions, the challenge of change, and the challenge of moving forward.
As a parent, one of the biggest challenges you may face is discussing your child’s feelings with them. Here are two tips for talking with your child during the divorce process.
“Whether he’s upset about the divorce in general or about something more specific… anger and disappointment are normal, healthy emotional reactions,” Says therapist M. Gary Neuman, “A child is entitled to these feelings and should be able to talk about them without worrying that his parents will be upset or angry.”
Allow your child to express how they feel, even if it doesn’t make sense to you, differs from your own emotions, or is hard to hear. Giving your child the space to share their true emotions will help them to maintain and build a trust connection with you, and it will also help them ease their own hurt.
Help Them Put Their Feelings into Words
“Kids need to know that their feelings are important to their parents and that they’ll be taken seriously,” says an article in Kids’ Health.
Children may not yet know how to express the things they are feeling. Give them the safe space to begin putting those feelings into words, and help them along when it seems appropriate. Gently ask questions, listen carefully, and help your child give shape and meaning to their thoughts and feelings.
“Expressing themselves gives kids a sense of empowerment and can help ease their frustration,” says Neuman.
There is Power in Simply Being Present
Simply being there, listening, and providing consistent love and support are the best things you can do for your child through a divorce.
Every child will respond differently to the experience, but the fact that you are there for them will give them the confidence they need to express themselves, and the energy for resilience in the face of hardship.
Summary of Part I and II: In part one of this series we discussed how to focus on your kids while maintaining boundaries. In part two of this series we talked about how to focus on your own needs so that you can be there for your children.