One of the most difficult parts of separating from your partner is seeing your child in pain. While it’s normal for divorcing couples to feel sad, angry, or frustrated, it’s important to remember that children involved in a divorce also feel incredible amounts of anxiety and pain. Even if divorce has been imminent, your child may feel blindsided by the separation. This can lead to feelings of anxiety or even depression. No matter how old your child is, it’s important that you take the time to talk with them about your divorce and to spend time helping them cope. If you’re a dad in the midst of a separation, there are a few things you can do to help your child.
Don’t take it personally
Your child is going through an incredibly difficult experience. Chances are that you and your partner had some time to emotionally prepare for the divorce; however, your child did not. This is new territory for them and they will be feeling a variety of emotions. Your child might not even understand why they feel angry or upset. During this time, your child may lash out at you or your former spouse. Don’t take this personally. Your child needs your support during this time. Avoid passing judgment on their feelings and instead try to respond in a way that is calm and caring, rather than reacting with anger or frustration.
Focus on togetherness
Help your child experience as much normalcy as possible. If you and your partner can stand being around each other, you can do things like going to dinner as a family or attending sporting events together. If that’s not possible, you can still spend time with your child. Take them to their basketball games, go to the movies together, and plan trips or outings together. No matter what you and your former spouse are going through, focusing on spending time with your child is important. The divorce is not your child’s fault, so you should try to make sure that their life remains as normal as possible.
Validate their feelings
If your child talks with you about their feelings, it’s vital that you avoid reacting negatively to those feelings. It can take a lot for a child to open up emotionally, so take a deep breath. Then remind your child that their feelings are valid, normal, and to be expected. Talk with your child about how they’re feeling. Discuss ways you can help them feel safer and more secure during this time. Your child might be worried that you’ll stop loving them or that you’re going to leave them, so focus on helping them feel understood, appreciated, and important.
No matter what led to your divorce, make sure you take the time to focus on your child’s feelings. Spending time with your child is incredibly important to their development. You should also take the time to talk with your attorney about questions or concerns you have about child support, co-parenting, or the legal side of divorce. Your attorney wants to help you, so reach out with questions today.
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