Once you and your spouse have made the decision that divorce is now the way forward, making this new transition harmonious and amicable will help to protect your child against emotional damage that can easily be inflicted during a divorce. We can become so consumed by our own emotions that our child’s emotional state is overlooked. Always remember that this is a very difficult time for your child, too. Their whole little world has been ripped apart, just as yours has.
Ensuring that the child does not feel abandoned by either parent helps them to remain secure within the family. After all, the child didn’t ask for this, so learning that Mom and Dad don’t want to live together any longer can feel very unfair to them. It’s so important not to expose them to any animosity. If you can master putting all of your hurt and anger aside while your child is around, you’ll find that you have a happier, healthier child.
The child should always remain more important than the conflict. Would you want your child to feel caught in the middle of a broken family, or for your child to begin hating their own home, or even to fear you or your partner because of the anger they’ve seen you both display.
Everyone says it, and it is very important: Do not speak badly about your ex-spouse in front of the child. Just don’t do it. It’s not fair. A child should be allowed to have two heroes growing up. Don’t ruin it for them. It will only result in negative emotions rooting in your child from a young age. That never ends well.
No matter how badly you’ve been betrayed; no matter how horrible or selfish your ex’s behaviour has been, a bad spouse does not equal a bad parent. If your child could speak for him or herself, would he/ she want to have a good relationship with both parents while growing up? If someone asked you when you were a child: “Do you want a good relationship with your mommy and daddy?” What would you have said?
During a divorce, your child is also grieving a loss. Sometimes, his/ her stress and unhappiness could manifest as a stomach ache or sleeping problem. Your child may even begin regressing in their development, or start to experience separation anxiety and throw strange new tantrums. He/ she may begin to respond differently to you, or to react to other people in a manner that is out of character.
My daughter used to wake up screaming. As she awoke, I could see her struggling to recognise which house she was in. She was confused and out of her routine. There was so much change happening, and yet my children were still so young. Eventually it stopped, but even now, to this day, strange new behaviours crop up from time to time. The family that my children knew no longer exists, and they needed some time to adjust.
It’s so important to keep telling your child how much they are loved. Keep showing them plenty of affection, whether they are one month old or 18 years old. During a divorce we can easily become distracted by our own thoughts: Wrapped up with legal phone calls, or emotionally stressed by ongoing arguments with an ex-spouse. We need to remember that even if we aren’t feeling loving, our children constantly need to be loved and reassured that everything is going to be fine. Now more that ever. It can be such a fragile period in a childs life, that can be hugely impactful on their future.
Always look to strengthen yourself as a parent. Never let your divorce affect who you are as a parent. Kiss and cuddle your child as often as you can. Keep investing love, positive energy and time into your child. It will be the best investment you’ll ever make.