I’m sure by now, you know parenting isn’t always as easy as it looks. I think what is most important is that you realize that you don’t have to be perfect. All good parents make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes, and repair after them.
Over the years I’ve worked with many children. What I hear parents say the most, is that they want their child to be happy and grow up to be a responsible adult. Many parents are worried that their child is too stressed out, and doesn’t have the tools to cope.
Children learn by observing their parents. They really do want to please their parents. Going through a divorce is stressful on everyone. Remember, your child isn’t getting a divorce, you are. Most of the time when I see a child, where the parents are going through a divorce. The main complaint is that the child feels anxious.
There are many reasons why the child feels this way. This means there is not one easy solution. You don’t want your child to feel like they are in the middle, and you want to make the transition of going from one house to the other as smooth as possible. In the beginning it will be challenging.
Here are 5 tips to help decrease anxiety in your child when going through a divorce:
- Do not talk about the other parent in front of the child. I know you are feeling emotional during this time. You may feel angry or betrayed. But, this doesn’t mean your child needs to know about it. If they are older, they may have caught on to how you are feeling. But, it’s important that you don’t talk about it with your child. This is when you want to lean on friends and family. If that’s not enough, then it’s time to talk to a professional. So, you can get the support that you need during this time.
- Don’t give your child everything, because you feel guilty. The divorce rate is nearly 50%. This means that a lot of children grow up in a divorced family. Children that come from a divorced family, can learn to adapt well to new situations. This can help them later in life. Don’t try to bribe your child into loving you. They are your child and they will love you through the good and the bad.
- Respect parenting differences, that you have with your ex. Try to be supportive of your ex’s parenting style. Unless it is out of line. Arguing with your ex will do more harm than good to your child. Your child needs to know that you and your ex have differences, and that you are able to work them out.
- Make time for fun. Play with your child. This is their language. Get down at their level and have fun with your child. You can play a game or paint. Go outside and play tag with your child. Start some traditions for having fun together. Take a yoga class together on Saturday morning or go for a bike ride. Be adventuresome and visit new places together. When you are having fun with your child, they will feel more connected to you.
- Give yourself a break. This is a time where you want to go easy on yourself. Make sure to take care of yourself. Take a bubble bath, get a massage, or spend time with friends. Make sure you get plenty of rest and eat nutritious foods. If you are tired order a pizza for dinner, rather than making a big meal.
Don’t spend time feeling regretful about the past. You can’t go back and you can’t change that. Remember, you are doing the best you can. You will get through this, and things will get better over time.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many parents and children through a divorce. For more information, please call or email (650) 892-0357 or Lianne@LessonsforLove.com.