Divorce is hard- on parents and children alike. So how do you know how to help your child after a divorce? Just like children don’t come with “How to” manuals, the situations you may encounter in life and as a parent are also missing “how to” manuals. When you’re hurting or coping with the emotional trauma of divorce, so is your child. Depending on your child’s age, there are many different options out there to help your child after a divorce. The biggest help for any child, of any age, after a divorce is to remain open to them emotionally.
The biggest question in most parents’ minds after a divorce is “Will we get through this without damage to our parent-child relationships?” That’s why it’s so important to know how to help your child after a divorce, to ensure that the parent-child relationship with BOTH parents remains intact. It’s important to remember that neither parent should engage in “mud-slinging” or “slandering” of the other parent or their character. Your child loves both of you equally, and the quickest way to lose his/her love or respect is to attack the other parent or talk badly of the other parent in front of your child.
Make sure that you child doesn’t feel like the divorce is his or her fault, allow plenty of time with the other parent and your ex-in-laws. Do not use your child as a weapon to “get back at” your ex-spouse or his/her family. Allow your child to ask questions, and answer questions as honestly as possible without placing blame on the other parent. If possible, talk the situation over with your ex-spouse and try to come up with a plan of action in which you can both work together, agree on specifics as to how to help your child after a divorce- TOGETHER.
If your child seems to be having an extremely difficult time dealing with the divorce, or you notice symptoms of depression, anger or even suicidal tendencies in your child- have him/her evaluated by a mental health professional immediately. It might be a good idea to find a counselor or therapist for your child to talk to before any serious issues arise, they can help your child through the entire divorce process and adjustment period.
Remember that the best way to help your child through the divorce and aftermath, is to stay healthy and positive yourself. If you are struggling to deal with the divorce, your child will notice, and will have a difficult time too. If the divorce was unexpected or due to trauma such as domestic violence or abuse, it’s a good idea to see mental health professional or counselor for yourself. Not only can a mental health professional help you deal with the aftermath for yourself, he/she can tell you best how to help your child after a divorce.