In the last article of this series, we talked about helping your children cope through a divorce. This week, we’re addressing the need for establishing a new normal. As human beings, we are hardwired to be adverse to change. Routine makes us comfortable as we know what to expect and can minimize difficulties in our lives. Children are no different. Going through a divorce, children often get caught up in the fact that things are never going to be the same. This is why, as parents going through a divorce, you must begin to create a new normal as soon as possible.
Keep up consistency for a new normal
Consistency provides comfort and familiarity. Comfort and familiarity are two things your child needs most while you are going through a divorce. The first thing you should do to create a new normal is to minimize unpredictable schedules, transitions, or sudden separations.
The new normal you create should involve one-on-one time for each child with each parent. Even if you have to make lifestyle changes, make sure you keep alone time with your children a constant.
Watch out for behavioural changes in your children, signs of moodiness or depression, anxiety and defiance. Picking up bad habits or mixing with questionable company may be one of the ways a child thinks will help them cope with their parents’ divorce. Older children may be more vulnerable to abusive behaviour such as using drugs and/or alcohol or playing truant. These all indicate a need for additional help and you should act immediately.
Never Fight in Front of them
We mentioned this before, but it warrants a little more attention. While occasional arguments between parents are common in any family, your children shouldn’t have to live on a battlefield. A new normal of continual conflict and hostility is not conducive to a child going through their parents’ divorce. Refrain from screaming, arguing or blaming each other for the failed marriage in front of the children. Raising your voice will frighten them, no matter how old they are.
Another reason open conflict is not healthy is that it hinders your child’s ability to form wholesome relationships. They are still learning how to make connections, and your fight club example will only taint their understanding of normal relationships.
If you and your spouse or ex are finding it hard to communicate, seek help. A professional will help you both air your grievances in a conducive environment that does not hurt yourselves or your children any further.
Be attentive and look out for signs that your children are not coping well with their new normal. For example, they may be acting differently than usual, reverting to unacceptable behaviour or regressing to younger habits like wetting the bed or sucking their thumb. Be sure to also make sure that your child’s emotions are not getting in the way of their performance in school and in their social lives.
If you and your spouse or children need help getting through this tough time, contact Touch Community Services for support.