The psychological needs of a child are greatly increased while going through divorce. They must deal with an emotional and economic roller coaster, all the while feeling guilt, fear and confusion.
If parents are consciously focused on and sensitive to their child’s essential needs during and after the divorce, they will do a better job of meeting them.
Safety – Your children must know that they are safe and protected, even though you and your partner have split up. It is important to keep a regular pace, boundaries, and routines. Children need to know that their world is predictable and that it’s not going to change on them.
Acceptance – One of the child’s greatest needs will be the need for acceptance. Their self-concept is very likely in a fragile and formative stage, especially if they are at a young age. Children tend to personalize things and blame themselves.They blame themselves for the arguments that they believe lead to the divorce, thinking, “If only I had cleaned my room or if I hadn’t asked for all those new toys.” Children need to know that they are important, that they are a priority.
Structure – With the loss of a family leader from the home, children will test and check for structure, so be sure they receive it. They will need structure now more than any other time in their lives, because this is when things seem to be falling apart for them. Enforce discipline consistently and with the right currency for good behaviour. Children need to see that the world keeps spinning, and they are still an important part of what’s going on.
Above all, you need to let kids be kids – It is not the child’s responsibility to heal your pain. Too often, children serve as either armour or saviours for their struggling parents. Whether or not you feel brave or strong, you must appear that way for the best of your children. Children do not need to be dealing with adult issues.
There are qualified professionals who can help you, your child, and the rest of your family find solutions. At Family TLC we believe that successful parenting requires both love and knowledge. Check out our free online resources for tips on how to communicate with your child.