Every separating and divorcing parent worries about how the separation and/or divorce will affect the children. And it’s probably fair to say that most parents recognize how important it is to remain involved in their children’s lives and to continue to work together as parents “as if” they were still together.
However, it’s probably also fair to say that many parents struggle with this and wonder if it’s even possible.
The Basics of Parenting through Divorce
There is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to parenting through divorce since every child reacts and adjusts differently to each individual separation or divorce.
The only thing that can be said for certain is that divorce is tough on kids. But the way you handle the situation can have a great impact and make it easier for your kids to adjust. (1)
Throughout the separation and divorce process, it is important to remember that “[t]here is no such thing as a perfect parent or an ideal family. Being a good parent doesn’t mean having all the answers or solving every problem. It means demonstrating love and concern and helping children and youth understand and cope with their feelings. It means providing a safe and nurturing environment, and fostering a child’s sense of trust and self-esteem.” (1)
Separation and Divorce Survival Tips for Parents
The “as-if” principle has already been mentioned above. Other parental survival tips include:
• Help your children express their feelings. Children cope better when they feel they are being heard. (1) Additionally, don’t downplay your child’s pain and sadness. Anger and disappointment are normal, healthy emotional reactions. A child is entitled to these feelings and should be able to talk about them without worrying about upsetting you. (5)
• Separate your spousal relationship (which has ended) from your role as parents (which goes on) (1)
• Kids need at least one responsible parent who will teach right from wrong, set limits and routines which results in a “more stable and predictable environment that encourages healthy development.” (2)