Sometimes, marriages don’t work out, but we would still do anything for our family. 72% of divorces occur within the first 14 years of marriage, which is when most couples still have minor children.
If you’re working through a divorce with young children, there are a lot of challenges to navigate, especially with your children. However, the good news is that you are not alone.
Let’s talk about how to build resiliency in your children through separation or divorce.
Why Resiliency Is So Important
Resiliency is an important skill for any child to learn. It can help them find greater success in life and cope with circumstances beyond their control. Learning to bounce back from setbacks and challenges is critical for proper development.
More importantly, separation and divorce require resiliency for everyone involved. Children happen to be the most at-risk in these situations, which is why it’s so important to help them build resilience.
Remember that resiliency is a skill, not an innate personality trait. It’s not something people are born with, which is important to recognize before helping your child along.
Building Children’s Resilience Through Separation
The most important factors in building resiliency for your child are understanding their needs and reducing their stress levels. Children will learn a lot on their own, but only in the right environments. Let’s talk about how to facilitate that.
Reduce Co-Parenting Conflict
Conflicts between co-parents are bound to happen at some point. However, reducing their frequency and ferocity is essential. Your child may have shown resiliency so far in the process, but everybody has their limits.
Separation and divorce are already traumatic experiences that require resiliency. Children will need to learn how to adapt to a different living situation. Adding most stress is the last thing they need.
Never Use Children as Messengers
We live in a world with no excuses. If you have something to say to your ex, you can contact them whenever you want. You should never put your child in a position where they feel trapped in the middle.
While this is especially true for any negative messages, it holds true for all. Your child should never feel responsible for conveying information. We all know how the game of “telephone” works.
Consequently, if the child forgets or misinterprets the message, this could lead to hostility. Your child will then feel they are to blame for escalating conflicts. It’s always best to avoid putting children in this position.
Consistency between the two households is vital for a child’s development. For example, if one parent allows video games before homework and the other doesn’t, this could lead to resentment toward the parent perceived as “more strict”.
Try to sit down with your co-parent and discuss basic rules and expectations that you need to maintain at both houses. As time passes, more of these differences are likely to arise. Discuss them as they come and try to work toward an agreement, rather than blaming the other parent without communicating.
Maintain a Routine
A predictable daily schedule is the best way to build routines for children. However, this is a challenge with two homes.
Children should be able to predict where they’ll be housed and what their days will be like in the near future. Would you like to wake up every day without any clue of where you’re going or what you’re doing? Consider your child’s point of view here.
Moreover, a set schedule is essential for children. If the child knows they spend every Wednesday and every other weekend with one parent, try your best to keep these consistent. You want them to easily predict their routines.
Also, if your child is used to waking up, having breakfast, getting dressed, watching a short episode on television, and then going to school, keep it consistent. We all like having some semblance of a routine, which is especially important when living in two separate homes. Waking up in a different location regularly is disorienting enough, so establishing a clear routine is quite helpful.
Encourage an Open Dialogue
There’s a good chance your child is worried to tell you how they are feeling, especially if you’re visibly occupied with your divorce. Let your child know that they’re more than welcome to tell you how they’re feeling, even if that means telling you hard truths you may not want to hear.
How else can you help foster resiliency? If the child does not know how to regulate their emotions, and you don’t know what emotions they are feeling, where is there room for progress?
Your child is likely experiencing big emotions due to the stress of a new life. They should not be punished for expressing themselves but encouraged to do so. Suffering in silence won’t help anyone.
Strategize With Your Co-Parent
Sit down with your co-parent away from your child and discuss a plan for building resilience in your child and how to manage their stress levels. Try to keep things as consistent as possible in each home, discuss issues away from them, and work to make your child as comfortable as possible in both homes.
Divorce is challenging for everybody, but your child has the least amount of power during the process. For this reason, it’s important to develop an inclusive plan for them with your co-parent and stick to it.
If you feel overwhelmed, that’s okay. Talk to a professional co-parenting facilitator to help build an easy transition and better resilience for your child. This way, you and your co-parent can stay on the same page.
Don’t Give Up
We know that separation and divorce are challenging. However, your children are innocent in these situations, and it’s the responsibility of their parents to give them the security, stability, and tools they need for success.
Keep reading our blog for our latest co-parenting tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!