PARENTS WHO LISTEN MORE AND SPEAK LESS. A child’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviour may be unstable during this difficult time. They need to be able to express how they feel without their emotions begin stuffed. Some of the things they say may be difficult for the parent to hear, so don’t dismiss or minimise what is said or how they feel.
REGULAR ACCESS TO GRANDPARENTS. Relationships with your extended family may be difficult for you, but the kids still need them. Determine what access grandparents and other extended family members will have to your children and remain open to the fact that these adults can be very helpful during this difficult time. It can often times be easier for children to express their feelings to grandparents and others.
PARENTS WILLING TO TAKE A PARENTING CLASS. I’m not talking about the inexpensive divorce class that most states require all divorcing parents to go through, I’m talking about a multi-session parenting class in which parents learn about the development stages of childhood and what constitutes normal and abnormal behaviour. Getting this additional help from a class or even a parent coach can prepare you for major behaviour challenges caused by the divorce.
FIRM BOUNDARIES AND LIMITATIONS. Even though many children and teens will push the limits even further during a divorce, they require firm rules to know that the parents are still in charge and care. Firm boundaries creates feelings of safety and love, especially during difficult times such as divorce. Avoid the urge to give in and bend rules, just to avoid hearing the dreadful statement, “I want to go live with my Dad (or Mom).”
RESPECTFUL TALK ABOUT THE OTHER PARENT. Your issues with your ex are your issues, not your child’s. No matter how terrible of a person you feel your ex was to you or to the kids, your children will most likely still see them as the wonderful, flawless parent they once were. You don’t have to speak affectionately about them in front of the kids, just respectfully.
CONSISTENCY ON RULES OF ACCESS TO INAPPROPRIATE MATERIAL. Your son comes home from a visitation with the other parent, with a new smart phone, tablet, violent video game, or any other object you normally don’t allow him to have. Avoid thinking that he can keep it just because the other parent gave it to him. Calmly and kindly hold on to that item until the next visitation occurs. You can’t do anything about what your child is exposed to in the other parent’s home, but you can in your own.
PARENTS WITH EMOTIONAL SUPPORT. Going through a divorce can be devastating and something no one should go through alone. Seek out support groups in your community to get the help you need. Many churches offer a continuing workshop and support group called Divorce Care that is open to anyone, even if you are not a member of the church. Your children need you emotionally strong and able to provide the support they will need to get through this difficult time.