Divorce is hard on everyone in a family, and parents might watch their children closely for signs of turmoil. Are the kids spending time with new friends? Are their grades falling? Are they exhibiting behavior issues?
It’s natural to rejoice when the kids appear to take it all in stride. But don’t be fooled. Although they seem resilient, they’re still children. And they still need their parents. Here’s a short list of things even the strongest and most capable kids need:
No, it’s not necessary to divulge all the dirty details of your divorce. In fact, it’s best to keep that between you and your ex. But, uncertainty breeds stress. Kids crave information about what to expect in their own lives. What’s going to change for them? Will you move? Where to? When will they see you and their other parent? In short: how will their lives be affected as your family moves forward?
Interest, Support and Encouragement
While they might be getting great grades and completing equations that boggle your mind, even the most confident teenagers need to feel cared for. Be sure to show an interest in their schoolwork and extra-curricular activities. Let them know that you care and you’re available to help them if they need it. And don’t forget to enthusiastically encourage them toward their goals. It’s easy for children of divorce to put their needs and dreams aside because they don’t want to be a burden on their already-stressed parents. Let them know you want them to be the best they can be.
They need to know you don’t hate their other parent
This one can be tough, but it’s important. The children you created with your ex carry the DNA of both of you, and they can’t change that. Speaking ill of your ex is telling your child that he or she is 50% [insert expletive here]. And although your marriage ended, your child’s family is still your child’s family. Don’t be afraid to remember the good times (aloud), express appreciation for your ex in front of the kids and let them talk freely about their life when they’re away from you.
Are your children thriving after your divorce? Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief… but then ask them about their homework and plans for the future.