In many countries up to half of the children grow up in families where their biological parents are separated which often means that the child has two homes, the mother’s home and the father’s home.
Divorce is not automatically bad
According to statistics, the children of divorced parents have more problems than those growing up in a two-parent family. It was previously thought, that parental separation automatically increases the risk of children getting problems, but more recently it has been understood, that this may not be the case. These children’s higher probability of having problems later in life can be better explained by other risk factors often present after divorce. These include distancing from the other parent, challenges growing up in a blended family, conflicts between the separated parents, and lack of parental collaboration in general.
According to statistics, the children of divorced parents have more problems than those growing up in a two-parent family.
How to support children of divorce
I have listed below a few tips on how you, as one of the parents of the child, can support your child in coping with your divorce.
-Help the child realize, that there are not only setbacks but also benefits in having two homes.
-No matter what you think about your ex, always speak respectfully about him or her to the child. Keep in mind that blood is thicker than water. By allowing your child to think highly of their other parent you are contributing to the well being of your child.
-Be as flexible as you can with visitation arrangements. It pays in the long run.
-Do your best to support the relationship between your child and his other parent.
-In the case the other parent does not see the child, find ways to support the relationship in any way. You can do this, for example, by encouraging your child to send regularly emails or postcards to the other parent. Even a one-sided relationship is better than none, and in due time the other parent may well start to respond to the child’s messages.
– Avoid taking your divorce to court. Seek mediation instead. It is a decision, that will save you money, time, and your nerves, in addition to being a service to your child. Remember that from the child’s perspective almost any compromise is better than ongoing conflict. In every language there are sayings to remind us of the importance of being flexible in negotiating agreements. For example, in English there is the saying, ‘compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer’.
– If the child has any problems, avoid blaming the other parent for the problem. It can make sense to do so, but blaming the other parent is counterproductive and often only serves to aggravate the problem. Assume a different stance and approach the other parent as an expert by consulting him or her. Say something along the lines of, ‘I am worried about (insert the thing that you perceive as a problem) and wanted to know if you have some idea of what we could do about it?’ By approaching the other parent as an expert, you invite him or her to collaborate with you in finding a solution to your worry.
– Find ways of thanking or giving positive feedback the other parent whenever possible. For example, whenever the child makes progress, succeeds in something, learns difficult things, or overcomes problems, take a moment to think about how you could be able to give part of the credit to the other parent. By doing that you are doing a great service to the well being of your child.
Divorce and separation are part of life, and a challenge that a growing number of children all over the world need to learn to cope with. As a parent, you can help your child to cope with your divorce by making decisions, and acting in ways that promote collaboration with the other parent.