Even when you believe that divorce will ultimately help your children lead better lives, it can still prove difficult for them. They often struggle with thoughts that they caused the divorce or that their parents do not love them. They do not know how to process this major change in their lives.
Common advice about divorce stresses that you need to tell your kids repeatedly that they did not cause the split and that you and your ex still love them, just like you did when you were married. That is important. However, just telling children that you love them may not be enough. You need to show them to really get them to believe it. Here are a few ways to do so:
Praise them for what they do
Kids want praise. They want to know that their parents care about what they have accomplished. Whether it’s a painting they made, an athletic achievement, a paper they wrote for school or anything else, make sure you praise them and give them encouragement. This shows them that you care about their life and what is important to them, and it also helps to build up their confidence.
Spend time with them
Kids really know how you feel about them based on how much time you spend with them. Adult life is busy. Not only do you have the divorce to figure out, but you also have work, friends, social obligations and much more. Make sure you take time out to spend with the kids, engaging on their level with the activities they enjoy. They definitely do notice, and it has an impact.
Listen to them when they speak
You may feel like a story about something that happened in first grade isn’t all that important, but remember that this is your child’s life. It is important to them. Really listen and pay attention. Give them time to talk. Don’t just ask questions about things you care about. Give your attention to the things that matter to them.
Traditions give kids a routine, which can be very important during and after a divorce. Maybe you always read books before bed. Maybe you have pizza night together on Fridays. Maybe Saturdays are for trips to the rock climbing gym or the park. These little traditions make the kids feel involved with you, they give you more time to spend together, and they really show the kids that you love them.
During a divorce, think about how you can show the kids you love them. Then you can create a child custody plan that gives you a chance to stay involved with them and put them first for years to come.