Divorced parents sometimes carry a stigma of parenting failure, but that’s undeserved. Many are killing it, and here are the signs in their kids that they are.
Approximately one out of four marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. This can have a devastating impact on a child’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. It could lead to discipline problems or issues at school.
However, there are ways that divorced parents can make the transition easier for their kids. There are some signs that parents are doing right by their kids. Read on to discover what these are.
1. The Parents Deal with Anger and Hurt Appropriately
No matter the reason for the divorce, whether it was a mutual decision or one made by the other partner, emotions will run high. While it’s okay to have hurt feelings, you need to find a way to put these aside and focus on your kids.
Parents who are doing right by their kids know that their child’s stability, happiness, and wellbeing means that they can’t focus on what they’re feeling. This doesn’t mean that the feelings will go away, but they’ll vent them properly. These actions might include:
Talking to a Therapist
The last thing your child needs to hear is how much you despise your ex. No matter what, that person will always be their parent, and they share genetic material with them. If you continuously bad mouth them or talk about how much you hate them to your child, this could make them believe that you dislike the same qualities in them.
Instead, vent your emotions properly. Therapists are a great way to help you through this difficult time, but talking to a close friend or family member can also be beneficial.
Refraining from Putting Your Child in the Middle
When you make your child a messenger, you are putting them in the middle of you and your ex’s conflict, and this isn’t where they need to be. They may not convey the message appropriately or may forget altogether, and then this puts them in a tough spot.
Parents who are doing right by their kids will be able to deal with their emotions in a healthy, productive manner. This keeps the kids out of the middle and gives you and your ex the chance to focus on their happiness.
2. Divorced Parents Communicate with One Another
When emotions run high during a divorce, it may be extremely difficult to speak to your ex in a civilized manner. However, those parents who are doing right by their kids will find a way to accomplish this goal.
If possible, keep the communication focused on the child’s needs. For example, if your child is having a tough time in school, don’t lash out at the other parent and say it’s their fault. Instead, make a plan to speak to the teachers or counselors to find out exactly what’s going on. This will help both of you find a way to fix it.
It’s also a good idea to make requests instead of demands if you need your ex to help with your child. The best way to do this is to change how you make your request. You can try using “Would it be possible…?” or “Maybe we should try…”
Parents who use these phrases keep the tone from being accusatory or demanding. At the same time, they are taking steps to do what’s right for the kids and making sure their needs are being taken care of.
3. Parents Acknowledge Their Child’s Concerns
Like you, your child will experience a wide range of emotions during a divorce. Parents who acknowledge their child’s concerns are doing right by their kids.
If your child gets upset about not wanting to visit the other parent or has a hard time coming home, one of the best things to ask is if you can do anything to make the transition easier. The problem might be as simple as the fact that they don’t have their favorite toy or blanket with them.
If that’s the case, this is something that is easy to fix. You can make sure to send the item along with them to the other house.
Acknowledging that your child has concerns about the new arrangement and finding a way to help them be okay means you’re doing something right.
4. Parents Get Along with New Significant Others
There may come a point in time when your ex gets into a new relationship.
This new person will be part of your child’s life—but you had no say in whether or not you think this person will be a good influence. You probably don’t even know a lot about this person, and that can be incredibly scary and frustrating, especially when you don’t know how they will treat your children.
Parents who are doing right by their child will find a way to get along with the new significant other and talk about concerns and worries. This new person may be just as fearful about getting into a relationship where there are an ex and kids involved.
You don’t have to become best friends, but to ensure that your child is being taken care of, you need to communicate. This can relieve a lot of stress for everyone involved.
5. The Parents Work as a Team
It may be tempting during a divorce to try to prove to your kid that you love them more than the other parent. You may let them get away with things that their other parent wouldn’t allow, such as staying up beyond their bedtime, watching shows on TV that the other parent doesn’t like, or letting them have a snack before dinner.
While your kids may take advantage of this newfound freedom while with you, it will also create confusion when they visit their other parent. It could also lead to them getting into trouble.
When it comes to successful co-parenting, you and your ex need to work as a team. The rules in each home can be flexible, but having some consistency can be beneficial. This might include staying consistent with having homework done before playing video games or going to bed at a certain time.
Consistency Is Key
It might also mean staying consistent with punishments. If your child lost certain privileges while with your ex, such as not being able to watch TV, then you need to apply the same rules to your home.
You should be working together when it comes to disciplining your children, as well as when it comes to rewarding good behavior. Children thrive on consistency and working together even after a divorce can help them feel safe and loved.
6. Transitions and Visitations Are Made as Easy as Possible
Going from one house to another can be incredibly challenging for your child, but the parents who are doing right by their kids make it as easy as possible.
This means that they remain consistent and the kids get picked up and dropped off at the same time every time. They also have what they need to be comfortable at the other house.
Parents will also give their kids some space so that they can focus on switching from one house to the other. Whether the child needs to sit and stare out the window or put in headphones and block out the world for a while, you allow this while also staying close.
7. The Focus Is on the Kids
Children of divorced parents often feel like they get forgotten or left out. This is usually because the parents are so focused on their emotions or are arguing over money or other arrangements. The parents who are doing right by their kids know that there’s a time and place for these matters, and it’s not in front of the kids.
When the kids are around, the focus is on them. This can help them feel loved and safe, as well as give them the opportunity to talk about what they are going through.
8. The Parents Give Kids Some Control Over Their Own Lives
Everyone wants to be able to control their own life, especially kids. While you can’t or shouldn’t give them complete control over their life, you can give them some.
This might include allowing them to decide which house they want to live in most of the time, or when they’ll go to the other house and how long they’ll stay. This can help them feel like they have a space where they can feel comfortable, instead of feeling like they are being forced from one house to another and not really having a home they can call their own.
9. The Kids Get to be Kids
Once one parent leaves the home, someone has to pick up the chores and jobs that they once did. Often, this falls onto the kids. This may force them to feel like they have to grow up before they are ready.
If you are wondering how to help kids through a divorce, find a way to allow them to continue to be kids.
This might mean asking friends or family members to help with things the other spouse once did, which might include picking kids up or getting them to appointments. If cleaning the house is an issue, consider hiring a professional.
10. The Parents Get the Kids Help if Necessary
Kids will be going through a range of emotions during a divorce, and they may not have the words to express what they are feeling. They may also be hesitant about talking to you or their other parent for fear they will be betraying the other one.
If you want to do right by your child, get them help if necessary. This might include taking them to a therapist to help them understand and vocalize what they are feeling. You might also encourage them to talk to another adult that they trust.
Not only will getting them help allow them to be able to express their anger and hurt, but they will also find ways to cope. This is the best way to ensure their emotional and mental needs are being taken care of during the divorce.
How to Do Right by Your Kids and Yourself
Getting help with a divorce doesn’t have to be hard. At SMB, we do what we can to help you through this difficult and challenging time. Divorced parents don’t have to navigate this change in life on their own. Contact our office today to see how we can help you and your family.