Be Aware of Your Children’s Needs
Divorce is not an easy thing to go through, especially when children are involved. Every child will react differently depending on their age, personality and the divorce situation. It’s a very emotional and stressful time for the whole family. As adults, we sometimes become so focused on our own stresses and needs that we fail to see how our decisions and actions affect those around us.
So what do our children need? In Dr. Phil’s book “Family First: Your Step-by-Step Plan for Creating a Phenomenal Family,” he lists 6 things kids need to help them adjust and begin healing.
- Acceptance. Dr. Phil feels this will probably be their greatest need, because “their sense of belonging to the family has been shattered.” They may also, in their attempt to understand what’s going on, try to take on blame for the breakup. “If only I hadn’t…Mommy & Daddy would still be together.” Kids need to understand that they are still a priority.
- Assurance of Safety. Kids may begin to question their own safety. Dr. Phil suggests that parents “maintain a normal pace, boundaries and routines,” so that although things are changing, their world is still predictable.
- Freedom from guilt or blame for the divorce. It’s important that kids understand that they had nothing to do with the breakup.
- Need for structure. According to Dr. Phil, kids will push harder than usual because their world is falling apart. During this time, consistent discipline and appropriate rewards are very important.
- Need for a stable parent who has the strength to conduct business. Kids need to see the parent being strong so that they can relax.
- Let kids be kids. I’ve seen this too many times so I’m going to just quote Dr. Phil here rather than synopsize: “Children should not be given the job of healing your pain. Too often, children serve either as armor or as saviors for their parents in crisis. They don’t need to be dealing with adult issues, and should not know too much about what’s going on between you and your ex-spouse.”
Divorce is a rough road for all involved. As adults, we can make it less difficult on the kids by being aware of their needs and understanding the reasons for some of their uncharacteristic behaviors.
Written By: Tricia Doane, Rust Built, Marketing Services