There is much parents can do to foster children's long term adjustment to any major change in the family. If relationships are close, nurturing, supportive and dependable, they can buffer children from many of the blows inflicted upon them by stressors in their lives. Divorce is no exception.
We must remember that our goal as parents is not to prevent or protect our children from experiencing any stress, but to help make the stressors our children face moderate enough so they can tolerate and overcome them. This fosters the resilience that they need and we, as parents, seek to help them achieve.
There are four key ways to do this. These involve building good relationships with your children, developing open communication with them, stabilizing the home environment and limiting the amount of change in children's lives. The third, stability, is by far the most crucial to their long term adjustment.
Build Good Relationships with Your Children
Create an Atmosphere of Open Communication with Your Child
Create a stable Home Environment
Limit the Amount of Change in Your Children’s Lives
Guilt is common in the divorcing parent. It may be comforting to know that children often emerge from their parent's divorce with greater psychological strength. Research is showing that the most effective easy to foster that resilience in your is not to shelter them from stress, but to allow them to encounter stress in doses that are moderate enough for them to handle and overcome successfully. This resilience will serve them throughout their lives.
Take some time to go over the above checklist and think about how your children have been affected by your separation and divorce. At that point you can make some decisions about changes you need to make to enhance their long term stability and security.
This article was excerpted with permission from the book Child Friendly Divorce by Diane M. Berry, MSW, LCSW, JD, published by Blue Waters Publications, LLC. Diane M. Berry, is a former family law attorney turned psychotherapist. She owns and operates a mental health clinic, practices therapy and, has been teaching the four-hour Parenting Through Divorce training, now required in Manitowoc County and many other jurisdictions before a divorce may be granted.
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