Marriages sometimes fall apart. Constant fights and conflicts can be overwhelming and, emotionally and physically disturbing. Divorce may be the only alternative.
Two individuals can get back on their feet and begin afresh. This scenario however changes when there is a child or children involved. Parenting post divorce is not going to be an easy task. But it is probably going to be the most important task you will ever do. Your children will need you more than ever now, and it becomes your responsibility to take care of them and help them stay balanced, functioning and happy.
It’s up to you, to make them into happy adults, and good human beings, and this is how you can do it.
Don’t Become Emotionally Needy
It is normal and easy to become clingy and emotionally needy at this point of time. Your marriage didn’t work out. The individual you loved failed you. Your world is crumbling down, and you are going to need all the support right now.
However, don’t rest all your grief on the fragile shoulders of your children. Your constant sadness, clinging, adverse reaction when the child meets the other parent can cause the child discomfort, anxiety, and pain.
The child will feel the pressure, and may react negatively by lying, trying to be away from the other parent, becoming aggressive and vulnerable, or simply isolating himself from it all.
On the other hand, this may force him to become an adult. He might take on the role of the missing parent and try to take care of you, fill the void in your life. This is not a good idea. Do you realize the pressure he will be feeling?
Don’t make your child your emotional anchor. Be careful with your words and actions. Reassert before your children that you are capable of taking care of them, even through this difficult period. It is very important that the child feels safe and secure during this period.
The other extreme of a divorce becomes overindulgence. The guilt of separation may make you overly indulgent towards your kids. Don’t let that happen either. Your child may act all rough and roguish post the divorce.
This usually happens when the child feels threatened and scared. He is agitated and angry and wants to break out. He is experiencing a lot of anxiety and does not want to see the parents get divorced.
Don’t allow the child to continue with such behaviour. Sit them down, and explain it to them that it’s okay. He will still have both his parents. If the child still persists in rough behaviour, don’t put up with it. Make it clear that co-operation is expected from the kid. Set behavioral limits and specify that aberration will lead to consequences. Don’t feel bad while doing this. You will be doing your child a favor.
Similarly, don’t try to camouflage the guilt you feel for the divorce by giving your child expensive gifts and treats. Keep the routines and regulations as they were.
If 10 pm was the curfew earlier, let it still be the same. If he was given one gift every Christmas, don’t suddenly make it to 5. The idea is to stop your children from developing bad habits and letting them know that rules and routine are not about to change in the wake of the divorce.
Don’t Disrespect the Other Parent
You may have been wronged in the relationship. But don’t let your grievance extend to your child. The simple story is, when you as one parent speak badly of the other parent in front of the child, the child is completely confounded. He will obviously loose respect for your spouse, but in the process, you become small in his eyes too.
Now, he has no one to trust. On the other hand, the other response could be an increasing loyalty towards the other spouse and a growing dissent towards you. Think about it. What happens when someone speaks badly about a person you really love? You automatically become defensive, and start disliking the person who is saying it. The same applies to your child. Always speak respectfully about your ex-spouse. After all, he is the child’s parent too.
Don’t Deny Access to Extended Family Members
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; they are not just family members, they also add much to a child’s growth, world view and overall development. Your bitterness does not entitle you to stop your child from meeting any of these people from your spouse’s side.
In fact in divorces, the extended family often plays a significant role in establishing normalcy, faith and balance during these trying times. So, as a single parent, never thrust your opinions about your spouse’s family on your kids. Let them interact, grow, and develop their own opinions.
Set High Standards for Your Child
Attorneys probably witness the ugliest side of divorce. Hence, when an attorney tells you something about post divorce parenting, it is probably a good idea to sit back and listen. Reputed divorce and family lawyer from Chicago states, “Maintain dignity and integrity of the relationship before your child. Often during the trial we see foul language and accusations running galore. Avoid that at all costs before your child.”
Make this transition a little easy for your child. Don’t force him to take sides. Don’t put them in the middle and use them as an instrument to hurt your spouse. Be aware, be strong and resilient during this trying period, and inculcate the same in your child.