Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, but it can be especially hard on children. Many children see their family unit transforming and are not sure what that means. Children may become sad, afraid, act out, or shut down as their parents are going through a divorce. All children react differently so parents need to be aware of how they are doing throughout the process.
As you navigate through your divorce and new normal you shouldn’t lose sight of how strong your relationship is with your children. Your relationship may go through a couple of rough patches, but that’s not to say you can’t strengthen it as you go along. Here are some ideas of how to strengthen your relationship with your children while going through a divorce.
Listen. Listen. Listen
Parents often scold their children for not listening. But, in some cases, they should heed their own advice. Many children feel as though no one is listening to them. By listening, we mean truly focusing on what they are saying and feeling. While parents may hear what their children are saying, they are not zeroing in on the true meaning of their children’s words.
If your child starts to tell you about their day, just listen to what they have to say. Don’t interject with advice or your own thoughts or feelings as they’re just trying to talk to you. By just listening, you can encourage them to keep talking and opening up to you.
Spend Time Together
Everyone is busy these days, but are you too busy to carve out some time to spend with your children? Spending time together is not only a great way to bond, but it’s also sending the message that you want to be with them.
Find something you like to do together and make time to do it. When you do have this special time, it’s important to do it without any distractions. This means no cell phones, devices, television, etc. When you’re spending time together it should just be the two of you.
Don’t Put Your Children in the Middle
When you’re going through a divorce it’s important to set boundaries so that the children are never getting in the middle of things between you and your ex. Don’t ask them what their other parent is doing or to relay messages. Your relationship with your children should be completely separate from any communication with your ex. Many times, parents put children in the middle or use them as pawns in the divorce. This is not only going to weaken your relationship with your children but can be very traumatic for them.
You don’t want to be a parent who is there sometimes and is not reliable. If you want to have a strong relationship with your children, be a consistent presence in their lives. This shows that you value your relationship and plan to always be there whether you’re married or divorced. It also makes your child feel important and feel like they matter in your life. When you dip in and out of their lives, they don’t feel as though they can count on you. Those types of feelings are going to do nothing to strengthen your bond with your child.
Make Them Feel at Home
If your child is not living with you primarily, make your home feel like their home. Let them have their own room and put their personal touches. Although they don’t live there all the time, they’ll feel like the space is their second home.
If you make your child feel like a guest in your home, they’re never going to feel comfortable and may even want to avoid visiting. You can expect to have a solid relationship with your child if they don’t feel completely welcome in your home.
Set New Traditions
While divorce means that some traditions will have to shift gears, it doesn’t mean that you can’t establish new ones. If you’re going to do this, involve your children so that they can help mold these new traditions with you. This will not only help them feel involved, but it may also ease some of their fears and anxieties as they have something new to look forward to with you.
Looking for ways to strengthen your relationship with your children while going through a divorce will help them to know they are still a priority in your life. They will still feel connected to you although their family unit has changed. If you can maintain these relationships and make them stronger, you and your children will benefit.