A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Child Heal After Divorce

A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Child Heal After Divorce

A divorce is just as tragic and scary for your child as it is for you, and possibly even more so. Your children can suffer. The process of your family changing can hurt them on several different levels. They are likely to experience many negative and scary emotions that they’ve never encountered before.

Help your child deal with their emotions following divorce with these strategies:

1. Recognize your child’s emotions and thoughts. Your child needs to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts about the divorce.

  • Children can feel hurt long after the divorce papers are signed and the court dates end. It’s important to recognize their feelings and work with them. Children also need to feel loved by both parents, so you want to reassure them that you still love them.
  • Establish an open dialogue with the kids. Feeling comfortable expressing their questions makes it easier for your child to handle the situation.
  • It’s important not to belittle or diminish a child’s emotions. They may differ from how you feel about the situation, so give your child room to express deep thoughts.

2. Protect your child’s emotional health by working together with your ex. Your child needs to be a priority after a divorce, so they don’t feel hurt or neglected. It’s crucial to find a way to work together.

  • Stay mature and remember you’re a parent who needs to protect your children. By working with your ex, you can establish guidelines to help address your child’s emotions.
  • You may want to keep communication with your ex open, so you can discuss the child’s needs without lawyers.

3. Create rules to protect your child during new relationships. After a divorce, you may be ready to start dating again or even remarry.

  • Children can have a difficult time adjusting to the idea that their parents are dating again. It’s not easy for them to see you with a new partner, and their feelings may be hurt. They may begin to act out, question you, or avoid the new partner.
  • It’s important not to force a child to have a relationship with your new partner. Children may need more time to handle these types of situations.
  • You also don’t want to force your child to call the new partner mother or father. Your child may not be ready for this type of label. Instead, your new partner can earn the title over time.

4. Avoid creating guilt trips. You don’t want your child to feel guilty about spending time with your ex and enjoying it. This will hurt their feelings and make them even more confused. Instead, encourage your child to feel happy visiting both parents.

  • Children often feel responsible for the divorce. But your divorce is not their fault. It’s important to help them understand that they’re not responsible so they don’t have the additional burden of feeling guilty.
  • You want your children to be able to see your ex without feeling like they’re betraying you. Children should look forward to their visitations. You don’t want to make them feel like they have to choose one parent to love and one parent to reject.

It’s important to pay attention to your child’s emotions after a divorce. You can help your children deal with their feelings in a healthy way so you can all move forward with your lives.

7 Steps to Easier Communication With Your Kids

7 Steps to Easier Communication With Your Kids

Are you concerned about the level of communication you have with your children? It’s frustrating when you can’t really seem to connect with each other – especially about the things that matter!

On the other hand, effective communication not only enables you to understand each other, but it also strengthens your bond. Wouldn’t you love to have this level of communication?

Luckily, there are steps you can take to strengthen your communication.

Following these tips can help you more easily communicate with your children:

1. Keep an open door policy. Your children will be more willing to talk if you make it clear that you’re willing to listen to them. An open door policy means that you’re not too busy or stressed to deal with their issues.

  • Children need to know that they can come to you with any issue and feel confident that you’re willing to listen and talk when they need you.

2. Listen first. If you listen to them without talking or interrupting, it shows your kids that you care what they think, and they’ll share more with you.

  • Sometimes, your kids may simply need to vent or share their thoughts.
  • At other times, they may want some feedback as well, but you’ll need to listen first to determine their need.

3. Ask questions. Questions can show your children that you’re paying attention to them and that you care.

  • Ask appropriate questions that are relevant to the conversation.
  • Ask open questions, appropriate for your child’s developmental level, to spark more conversation. Try not to stump your kids or make them feel hurt. Avoid questions that make them feel defensive.

4. Use easy conversations to strengthen your bond. In some conversations, you don’t have to offer advice. Your children may simply want to talk and discuss their day.

  • Your kids may also want to solve some issues on their own without your interference.
  • It’s important to use communication to build your relationship with your child, and sharing-only conversations support this endeavor.

5. Use positive language. The language you use during a conversation with your children can affect them. They can tell if you’re being sarcastic and mean. They can tell if you’re being negative or bored. They can also tell when you’re being kind and loving.

  • Your language can affect the entire conversation and its direction. The way you react to your child’s words can show them that you care.
  • It’s crucial to use positive language with your kids and show them that words matter.

6. Avoid anger. Your child may share information that makes you angry. But anger can stop a conversation or lead to a fight in an instant. Anger can also make your children afraid to talk to you.

  • If you want to strengthen your communication, it’s crucial to learn to control your anger.
  • Your anger shows your children that you’re emotional. It makes sharing difficult information or issues much harder for them, and they may even avoid you.

7. Give children space. Nagging your children to talk more usually doesn’t work. Avoid making your kids feel like they have to share every instant of their days with you.

  • Your children may need space, and communication can actually benefit from it.
  • They also need room to develop on their own, to grow and change. As they grow, their communication will change too. Try to go with the flow.

You can make communication an easier, more effective process with your children. Practice these tips and as your communication grows, so too will your relationship with your kids.

Larry Riley

Larry Riley

DFACS Foster Care Worker
5 years mostly working with teenagers in foster care

Other Experience Working With Youth:

Facilitator –  12 years

GRIP(Gaining Results In Intervention and Prevention)

A school-based substance intervention program offered to middle and high school students in Cobb County.

10 years a Facilitator of Lindley Middle School’s Leadership Mentoring Program

Claudia Toothman

Claudia Toothman

Claudia Toothman is a native of West Virginia but has lived in the Atlanta area since 1994. She earned her undergraduate degree from WV State University and her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University while living in Richmond, VA. She is also a DONA trained doula.

Claudia has worked and volunteered in community services for the past 25 years in a variety of areas including mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, autism intervention and senior adult support services. She also facilitates a community support group for dementia care partners.

As an active volunteer in her church, local schools and community outreach organizations, Claudia has always been passionate about serving children, families and the elderly.

She has been married for 32 years, has 2 children and enjoys hiking and gardening in her leisure time.

Alaiya Henderson Shotwell

Alaiya Henderson Shotwell

Alaiya Henderson-Shotwell is a licensed master social worker hailing from Atlanta Georgia. She earned her undergraduate degree from Kennesaw State University before earning a masters degree in Social Work from Capella University. Alaiya has served the Cobb county community for the past 16 years through both volunteering and social work positions throughout the county. Alaiya is a School Social Worker for the Cobb County School District as well as a member of SSWAG (School Social Workers of Georgia) and NASW (National Association of Social Workers).

In her free time Alaiya enjoys traveling with her husband of 5 years, watching and attending football games (Go Falcons), singing karaoke, and spending time with family; including her mom and dad, son and daughter in law, and her “grandcat” Glacier.