Knowing how – and when – to check in on your kids following a separation can be tricky. In this article, we’re sharing seven ways to check in on your kids after a divorce.
A divorce is often tough on the couple involved, but it can be devastating for children as they try to adapt to the fact that the life that they have always known has changed.
Many children find themselves struggling when their parents get divorced and will often find it difficult to express how they’re feeling; particularly younger kids. Family lawyers in Hastings, Hampshire and Herefordshire can help with the practical side of things, but what about the emotional fallout?
In this article, we’re sharing seven ways to check in with your kids after your divorce.
After a divorce, it’s common for circumstances to change and you may find that you have less free time than before. While this is tough, make sure that you try to set aside a little time each day when you’re not running around or trying to get everybody organised. When your children see that you are busy, they will perhaps be reluctant to ‘bother you’ and so regular downtime is likely to make them more willing to share their feelings with you.
Following a divorce, there’ll be a lot going on in your head, so it’s easy to become mired in your own new circumstances and lifestyle. Be sure to show an interest in what’s going on in your kids’ lives; who their friends are, what music they’re listening to and what they enjoy doing. By showing that you’re interested in the minutiae of their lives, you can help to encourage them to open up about other, more complex subjects.
Reinforce the family framework
Following a divorce your children can feel like their entire world has changed. This can lead to feelings of insecurity which, in turn, can lead to acting out and problems at school.
You can help to reassure them by keeping the family framework as normal as possible. Make sure (where possible) to spend time with your kids and your former spouse together in order to show a united front and, distance allowing, maintain a relationship with in-laws, allowing regular visits for the children.
Children will often find it difficult to actually identify just what they’re feeling following a divorce. So, it can be useful to introduce analogies to help them pinpoint their emotions.
Analogies such as weather can help here – for example, ‘how are you feeling? Is it sunny? Stormy? Dull?’ Using something that is familiar to your children is a really helpful tool for helping them to express themselves.
Following a divorce, you will of course want to support your children as much as you can, however, finding a balance is essential. Although your child may welcome the opportunity to express their feelings, they are also likely to want their own space.
This can be a fine line, but it’s important to try to read your child’s mood in order to know when to engage and when to keep your distance; particularly with older children.
Keep yourself in check
If a divorce or separation has been acrimonious, you’ll no doubt have extremely negative feelings toward your former partner. However difficult it may be, you need to keep these to yourself. Your children will pick up on your feelings and may feel that they have to pick sides which can be extremely stressful for a child.
Make sure that you remain neutral when talking about your former partner and their new relationship in front of your children. Also, always ask about their time spent with the ex – even if it’s the last thing you want to hear about.
When you travel on an airplane with children, you’re always told that, in the event of an emergency, you should put on your own oxygen mask before helping your kids. The same applies with a divorce – if you’re struggling, seek help such as counselling and call on your network of friends and family for help. Until you’re on an even keel, you’re unlikely to be able to help and support your children.
Moving forward together
A divorce can be incredibly tough on everybody involved but, for children, it can literally blow apart the only life that they have ever known. There isn’t, unfortunately, a magic wand which can help kids to deal with divorce, but you can help by spending time with them, encouraging them to talk about how they’re feeling, and by giving them space when they need it.
This includes allowing them to express themselves in their own way. When children are upset, our instinct is to offer comfort and to tell them not to be upset and not to cry as we dislike seeing them unhappy. While this is natural, it’s not helpful – make it clear that your child should express how they’re feeling in any way that helps them, and to make sure that your home and your presence are a safe space in which they can do just that.
Should your child need extra support, there are plenty of great children’s counsellors available. Your GP or local council will be able to point you in the right direction for this.