Your Divorced. How Do Your Kids Feel About It?
Your children are going to feel that your divorce is the end of the world for them. It's wonderful to do a lot of explaining with them and a lot of listening to them. It's also good to help them to unfold some coping skills.
When divorce shows it's ugly face at your front door, you might shrink into doubt and denial. Eventually, you'll snap out of it because you have some years of experience that matured you into coping. It will be harder for your kids who don't have all those years of experience. They hate your divorce and want their mommy back in their everyday life.
Of course, they'll eventually figure things out. I've created a hefty list of tips to help you help them to begin to cope with the divorce and their feelings.
1. Initiate Play With Them. Kids adore game playing, and while they think they are just "playing," you can use questioning to discover their true feelings. Be considerate and accepting. Don't try to audit or correct their words. Just listen.
2. Do Artwork Together. If you provide your child with crayons, paper, paste and other materials, you can do an art project with the theme: Mommy and Daddy's Divorce and (child's name) Role in It. Ask gentle questions and listen up for their answers. Fairly often, they hide their feelings inside the words they use.
3. Talk About It. This works best for older children. You can ask a very leading open-ended question - one that cannot be answered by Yes or No - and then let the child do the talking. You listen and ask more questions. Don't interject your opinion unless he asks a specific question only you can answer.
4. Read Books Together. Find books appropriate for your child's age about divorce and ask questions about his feelings as you read the book together.
5. Name Your Own Feelings. Your child might not know yet how to express the feeling that he is feeling about your divorce. Explain what your own feelings are, and your child will learn to begin to talk about his own feelings.
6. Good and Bad Ways To Deal With Feelings. Find family-type magazines and look through them together with your child to discuss the pictures that exemplify feelings. Talk about the feelings in the pictures and ask your child about his own feelings stirred bu by this nasty divorce situation.
7. Write A Story Together. Allow him to tell the story as he does for sharings at school. He dictates. You write, with mouth zipped. Just write. Later you can go back and ask questions about the feelings he talked about. You can ask where he felt the feeling in his body and how did it feel there?
8. Create a Puppet Show. You can each play a role, but let him choose which role he wants to play. That alone could tell you a lot. You be the other parent and ask questions about his feelings as you play.
9. Make A Scrapbook About the Divorce. This is a bit dramatic, but it just might be effective for some children. You can sit and watch as he does it, or you can just be in the same room for emotional support. When he's done, say "Tell me about your drawing." Ask feeling questions when he tells you about it.
10. Show Empathy for his plight. Recognize that your kids have lost control over a horror that looks uncontrollable to them because you are getting a divorce. You can tell him you realize he might not have made the same decision. If you offer him choices about daily doings once the divorce decision has been made, you can help him regain a sense of control.
11. Physical Activity. This is a great way to let kids run off pent up emotions. Getting physically active will help them to work off their tension. Once that's drained, they will be so much better prepared to handle the next challenge.
12. Provide Continuity. Divorce intrudes change into a child's life and they don't handle change well at all due to their immaturity. If you can keep his room the same; mealtime the same; household routine the same; homework time the same - whatever you can do to maintain continuity, it will help your child unfold his coping skills and handle his emotions so much better.
Your children come first and they are worth every effort you can make for their best regard. They will learn soon enough that your divorce is not the end of the world for them and that you've made every effort to provide the best for them.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In his book "Getting Over It: Wisdom for Divorced Parents," Len Stauffenger shares his simple wisdom gleaned from his divorce with his daughters and with you. Len is a Success Coach and an Attorney. You can purchase Len's book and it's accompanying workbook at http://www.wisdomfordivorcedparents.com