Divorce is not easy for parents to process, but it can be even more difficult for children to process. Children often feel stress, confusion, anger and sadness when their parents divorce. They may even feel like they are to blame for the split.
There are ways, however, that you can help your child process your divorce in a healthy manner. Effective co-parenting can be key in ensuring your child works through the many emotions that follow a divorce.
Tips for helping your child process your divorce
First, your child is not your therapist or your friend. Do not discuss your anxieties or anger about your divorce or the difficulties you are having co-parenting with your child’s other parent. Doing so can cause your child to experience stress that negatively affects their behavior at home or at school.
Similarly, do not bad-mouth your child’s other parent or interrogate your child about what their other parent is doing post-divorce. This can make a child feel like they have to take sides to the detriment of their mental health.
It can help to keep your child’s routines stable. If possible, have the same rules, mealtimes and bedtimes as your child had prior to your divorce.
Co-parents should also attempt to keep the rules uniform at both of their houses. Doing so can help make your child’s life more stable and this predictability can help children move on from the divorce.
If your child is struggling emotionally post-divorce, it may be helpful for your child to see a therapist who can assist them in working through their feelings surrounding the divorce. Similarly, if you are having difficulty parenting post-divorce you may also benefit from therapy. You need to be able to parent from a healthy place emotionally if you are to help your child work through the divorce.
Effective co-parenting can help children
What many of these tips boil down to is effective co-parenting. It is likely that if you divorced in California, you either share joint custody with your co-parenting partner or one of you has primary custody of your child and the other has visitation periods with your child.
Custody decisions in California are based on the best interests of the child. When you are co-parenting, it is helpful to keep your child’s best interests in mind. If you and your child’s other parent can agree on that common goal, you can work through your co-parenting issues in a healthy manner.