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Helping Your Child Adjust To Divorce and Post Divorce

Do Not Ignore Your Child. Listen To Their Feelings About Divorce

The main complaint that children of divorced parents have is that their parents do not listen to their feelings. It is not uncommon to hear a child say, "Why should I share my feelings with them when they are not going to consider what I have to say?"

Research has shown that children who do not share their feelings about divorce will have a more difficult time working through them. In addition, encouraging your child to share their feelings and listening to them helps them cope with the loss of the life they knew. (Kemp, Smith, and Segal, 2015).

Children of divorce have very strong feelings and opinions about their parent's divorce. Children are present for the fighting that occurred between their parents in their home before the divorce occurred. They are also aware of the disagreements that occur after the divorce.

Children whose parents divorce tend to bottle up their feelings. They worry about their feelings and need time to process that their parents will no longer be married. More importantly, they struggle to understand that they will no longer be part of an intact family.

Children and teens of divorce are much more likely to share their feelings with you when they believe they are truly being heard, listen to, and not judged.

4 Ways You Can Open Communication With Your Child

  1. Drop what you are doing. Put your cell phone down. Get off the computer. Tune into your child fully. Make eye contact and begin your conversation. When children believe they have your full attention, they are more open to discussing feelings. When distracted, they do not feel they are your number one priority.

  2. Respond, validate & acknowledge Make a promise to disengage from your thoughts and feelings about your ex when listening to your child's version of the divorce. Your child's truth about their feeling is their truth. Do not waste time trying to convince them their feelings are wrong. Reflect black what your child has said to you. This shows that you are truly hearing what they are saying to you. That is exactly what they want from you. Do not respond by saying, "I hear what you are saying but.." Instead say, "I hear what you are saying and I will do my best to show up differently for you."

  3. Notice their mood The best time to listen to children share their feelings is when they are in a favorable mood. If they are not in a good mood, this is not the best time to talk.

  4. Listen, Do not judge Listening to your child is not about opinion giving. Only acknowledge their feelings. If they receive an acknowledgment from you, they will express more information.

Listening to your kid's feelings about your divorce may seem like a simple task but it is difficult and at times hurtful. Your kids may be afraid to approach this topic with you because they are scared of hurting you or being judged. As their parent, it is your job to let them know that whatever they say is okay with you.

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