How to support your child
It’s often challenging to go through tough changes as an adult and also be a good parent. But there are simple things you can do to help your child feel connected to you. It could be something as simple as drinking some tea in the evening or sitting extra close on the couch. You’ll find more tips below.
Summary of the article below.
Children need closeness
During the divorce, the child also reacts to the parents’ change. Everything we adults go through makes us less present and attentive, which children register. Maybe there will be more conflicts because we don’t distract and handle the child’s feelings as we usually do. It is common for children to need extra closeness after a separation. If we then try to keep a distance, they often react by becoming naughty, clingy or whining. To prevent this, it is better to let the child be extra close. Sit next to the child on the sofa while you are browsing the web for a new home or new furniture. Let the child sleep in your bed if it feels safer that way. Ask your child to help out with preparing dinner – then you are together for a longer time than just while you are eating. The physical closeness is a security when it is stormy around you.
Create cozy moments
It’s all the more important to have cosy moments sometimes, the more messy life is. You all need to recharge with things that are positive and relaxing, and feel close to each other. Put away your phone, treat yourself (and each other) to dessert every now and then, and make pancakes on weekends. In other words, move closer to your child both mentally and practically. Do things with one child at a time if you have several. Perhaps you make it a routine to watch TV or a movie together, allow bedtime with younger children to take extra long, or have a cup of evening tea with your teenager. The point is that you’re just together – without demands, arguments, or must-dos. These moments can create valuable conversations that give you insight into your child’s thoughts. However, avoid leading questions or fishing for what your child is thinking about – it breaks the mood and can make them close up instead of opening up.
It’s great to offer to drive or pick up. In the car it can be easier to talk, because it can feel more relaxed when you’re sitting next to each other without eye contact. Show that you’re engaged by being interested in activities and what the child is doing online, and make sure you learn the names of their friends. Help with something the child asks for or that can ease their everyday life. A manageable and overviewable everyday life means a lot, even for older teenagers.
When you are sad and worried, it can feel tough to try to laugh together, but laughter and humor have a healing power. Try to do things that you think are funny, because it will strengthen both your relationship and your processing of the separation.
Set boundaries and new routines
It’s common for children’s requirements to decrease when parents separate. As a parent, you might want to be nice when you’re not together all the time. You might also not have the energy to keep things organized as usual. But at the same time as you create cozy moments and try to have fun together, it’s also important to have boundaries and guidance. If you let go of the daily routines too much, it can contribute to your child feeling unsafe.
Think about what minimum amount of routines and boundaries you want and are able to stick to, and focus on those. It may be more important that the child goes to bed at night than that they sleep in their own bed. It may be okay for the teenager to sink into playing games to cope with a difficult life. If playing games means that you never get a chance to talk or be together, then playing needs to be limited. Eventually, you will also need to create routines that fit your new family situation. This is one of the benefits of the breakup. Think about what was enjoyable in the past and what you would like to do differently in the future.
- It’s common for kids to need extra attention after a separation.
- The more chaotic things are, the more important it is to have cozy moments. Move closer to your child, both mentally and physically.
- Show that you’re committed by being interested in activities and what the child is up to.
- It can feel daunting when you’re down, but laughing together has a healing power on us. Try to do things that make you both happy.
- Choose your battles and stick to certain routines that work and create new ones for the life you’re living now.