3. Be predictable.
Surprises are for parties, not divorces.
When something is going to affect your children’s lives or routines, they have a right to know in advance. Children shouldn’t come to expect being shell-shocked by their parents’ choices and behavior.
4. Keep their routines as normal as possible.
A big part of healing a child’s heart after divorce is not doing things that hurt it more.
The one great consistency an intact family has already been taken away. The only thing that will keep a child grounded and able to adapt is having as much normalcy as possible.
School, friends, activities, rituals from the big things to the little things, these routines can be a salve to a child’s heart.
5. Acknowledge and validate your child(ren)’s feelings.
This is one of the most important commitments divorced parents need to make to their children.
If you have difficulty discussing your own feelings in a healthy way, you may benefit from guidance in talking with your children. A therapist or divorce coach can teach you how to elicit the expression of feelings from your children.
Expressing your perceptions and asking direct “feeling” questions can give children the safety they need to open up. And if they hear you express vulnerability in the form of feelings, they will learn to do the same.
6. Keep your language and explanations age-appropriate.
Children don’t need to know the “whys” of your divorce. But they do need (and deserve) to know how their lives are going to be changed.
Speak to the emotional and intellectual age of the children. And be prepared to answer questions and to listen to and validate their feelings.
7. Remember they are children, not “surrogate adults.”
You have other adults in your life to lean on for support. Your child is not responsible for comforting you or taking care of you, no matter how loving and caring s/he is.
If you have to swallow your tears long enough to tell your child that you are taking good care of yourself and will be fine, then do so. But don’t allow your child to take on the emotional burden of being a surrogate for you or your ex.
8. Encourage and support your child’s relationship with the other parent.
Regardless of your custodial arrangement, make sure your child knows that you know how important the other parent is to him/her. Speak supportively, encourage phone calls and communication, and be as flexible as you possibly can toward the other relationship.
Remember, healing a child’s heart after divorce starts with prioritizing your child.