If you are divorcing the other parent of your child, you know that a lot will change in your family. The most significant change is typically the amount of time parents and children will be together. As difficult as this can be for an adult, it can be even more so for children.
As a parent, you can help prepare your child in many ways.
Consider their age
Separation affects children differently based on their age.
As this article points out, children under three years old may not have the skills to understand the narrative around a parent’s absence. They often know something is different but don’t know why. Because of this, parents should be outward in showing love, support and as much consistency as possible.
As children get older, parents can help children prepare for separation by explaining what is happening (at an age-appropriate level) and helping them understand the schedule. Doing so can help a child know what to expect and when they will see each parent.
Validate their emotions
Divorce can be the best thing for you and your family, but that does not mean your children will feel the same way. No matter how they feel about a divorce or being away from a parent, it can be crucial to validate their emotions.
Talk to them, be patient and let them know that their feelings are normal. Reassure them that nothing they feel will change how much both parents love them.
Balance flexibility and stability
It will take time for everyone to adjust to new schedules and changing relationships. You can help your children by being flexible during this time. For example, you might let them call or video chat with their other parent more often.
It can be equally important to provide consistency for your child. Things like bedtime, morning and after-school routines can help children feel calmer when they remain the same during otherwise tumultuous times.
Preparing a child for periods of separation from a parent after divorce can give them the tools and support they need to navigate this challenging experience. And using these suggestions can help you as a parent, as you are also going through this difficult time.