- Family and Parenting
Healing Children from Divorce with Love
Healing Children After Divorce
Children are impacted from divorce regardless of how "well" it goes. It is important that families work together to overcome the challenges and problems that divorces cause. However, while you are working as a family to navigate your way around divorce issues, the parents need to take the leadership roles and do what it takes to help their kids to heal after the divorce. Some of the steps that you can take to minimize the negative effects of divorce on children include spending extra time with your kids, talking about their feelings and seeking outside help when needed. Divorce is hard on everyone. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help when you need it, even if that help is from your former spouse.
Healing Process for Children - After a Divorce
2. Emotional rollercoaster
3. Coming to Terms
4. Equilibrium Reached
The healing process for children after a divorce follows a very common pattern. The first step in the healing process is going to be a phase of denial. Your kids will avoid dealing with the fact that you are getting a divorced or they will hold on to the hope that the divorce will not go through and that you will be getting back together.
The second step is an emotional rollercoaster. This rollercoaster is going to include periods of morning, anxiety, apprehension, fear, anger and resentment. The best way to handle this phase is to provide your kids with the support that they need to handle their emotions in a healthy manner. You don't want to tell them not to feel a certain way. Allow them to feel the emotions that they are feeling. If, however, you notice that they are developing emotional patterns or behaviors that are unhealthy, such as completely withdrawing from society and their family, or becoming self-destructive, then you need to step in and find them professional help.
The third step is the phase in which your kids realize that the divorce is real and that your family is going to be different. This is also the phase that they finally accept your divorce and make adjustments to their thought processes to make the new family structure work for them. It takes some kids a long time to get to this phase so be patient.
The final step is equilibrium. This is the most productive stage of healing. It means that the healing process has finally completed and a new beginning has initiated. The time it takes to reach this phase is going to depend on the child, the way you handled your divorce and their maturity.
While every parent wants to do everything that they can to help their children recover from the negative effects of divorce. This is a very complicated process that involves problems that can't always be healed with time and love. Sometime children need professional help to heal. If you have to use outside help this does not mean you have failed as a parent. You are doing what is right for your child, and you are very brave to take this step. To find the best professional help for your child you can ask your school or pediatrician if they can refer a child psychologist or counselor to you. These professionals can help your child identify what things about the divorce they are having a hard dealing with, they can identify psychological disorders that may have developed and they can design a treatment plan that will empower your child and guide them to a healthier emotional and psychological state.
Tip: Finding help for your needs is important, however, it is also important to get the right kind of help. If you are feeling overwhelmed or if you are feeling overly depressed, then you may need professional assistance to deal with your emotional trauma.
Just like adults, children sometimes need to get away from the stress related to divorce just to get a break. There are several things that you can do to put together safe spaces, or divorce free zones, for your kids. The first method is to make an arrangement with a family member or a friend that allows your children to visit their homes when things get too overwhelming for them. Even if it is for a few hours or a for a few days, having a divorce free zone to go to for refuge can be helpful. If you are getting a divorce during the summer months then you can discuss with your kids the possibilities of going to summer camp. This is a popular option as it gives the kids the chance to have fun away from the mayhem of your divorce, while freeing you up to focus on the business end of things.
Tip: In addition to making arrangements for external safe spaces for your kids, you can also create safe spaces inside your home. You can create spaces dedicated to alone time. When someone is in the space they cannot be bugged by others in the house. This space can be used by both parents and kids as a place to go when you just need a minute to yourself.
The process of healing is not one that can be completed in a matter of hours, days or even a matter of weeks. Healing from a divorce is going to be a long term process that may never fully be finished. However, you can improve your children’s recovery by enhancing the communication between them and you.
Communication is something that many families fail to develop fully. This is evidenced by the amount of conflict that exists in many modern families, married and divorced. The problem of not having an established communication system within a family is that messages get mixed up, lost and interrupted. Meanings are lost and corrupted and people in the family get confused, angered and fed up.
When a family goes through a divorce their need for effective communication is heightened. Communication needs to be effective to not only ensure that mom knows what is going on with the kids, but that dad does as well, and vise versa. Developing a communication system that works in a family takes a little ingenuity. To start with rules need to be developed about how communications are transmitted and when they are required. Parents can encourage their kids to communicate more openly with them by establishing a rule that makes communications that are delivered in an appropriate and timely manner are not punished and that the entire message is listened to before a response is developed.
Family time is another important element to healing after a divorce. Family time needs to be fun and it needs to be meaningful. Do things that you all enjoy doing and that will encourage cooperation. Bowling, camping, board games, hiking, rope courses and even bike riding can all be great ways to spend time together. Just talking around the dinner table can also be a great way to improve your relationships with one another. Take the time to be with one another and support each other during this difficult time in your life and you could create a family dynamic that is stronger than it was before the divorce.
One side effect of divorce is conflict. Conflict can be between parents, between kids or between the kids and parents. If you want your divorced family to be functional after the divorce then you all need to find a way to resolve your conflicts quickly and fairly. Conflict resolutions for divorced families can be set rules for conflict resolution, it can involve the use of a mediator or it can involve the use of communication. Find something that works for your family.
Links and Resources
- Divorce and Children
Effects of divorce on children
- Coping with Divorce: Helping Your Child Cope with Separation or Divorce
Talking with children about separation and divorce. Helping your child cope with the negative short and long term effects of separation and divorce.