Children of divorce have many transitional moments that parents will have to watch out for. From the first time that they ask their custodial parent where the other parent is to them asking if they can see them during their time with the child, it can be a difficult task, helping them adjust to their new situation.
At a young age, they already are forced to deal with monumental changes in their development and find themselves exposed to all sorts of nuances that life has to offer.
Many outlets look to educate parents on ways of helping children adjust to the challenges that a parental divorce can create. One of the most engaging ways of helping a child of divorce cope is through activities.
The University of Missouri Extensions detailed a list of activities that children can participate in, that can help them deal with their feelings about their parental divorce. These activities allow both the parents and the child to work through their feelings and create a new chapter in their lives.
With the emotions that a child has to process during the divorce experience, they may not have a creative outlet to jump off from, and complex ideas are difficult for many children to vocalize. In order to mindfully express the emotional state of their child, divorced parents are encouraged to encourage their child to draw.
Depending on a child’s age, their ability to draw may be limited. According to Illinois State University, there are five stages of development in a child’s art: the scribble stage, the pre-schematic stage, the transitional stage, and the realism stage.
Depending on where the child of divorce falls on this scale, they may express the emotions of the situation differently. Asking your child to draw a picture of what they think divorce is, what their family looks like, what their home looks like, or what divorce looks like will bring up all of the emotions that are entailed with the experience.
While it may be difficult for them to draw through the anger, sadness, confusion or awkwardness, it is important for them to express themselves in a positive manner, allowing the parents to know what their child thinks and feels.
An important activity for both parents to consider is a simple one: talking with your child. Asking them how their life has changed or what a happy family is like can be beneficial in getting a good scope of the situation.
It also is important that you figure out how your child feels about concepts like love, marriage and divorce. Asking them why they think people get married or why they think people get divorced is essential in identifying any potential misconceptions and correcting them before bad future behaviors begin.
For noncustodial parents
It can be difficult to ask these questions and have these conversations if you are the noncustodial parent. When seeing their noncustodial parent, many children simply want to enjoy spending time with them and may reject the questions being asked to them.
However, if you are not on communicative terms with your ex-spouse, answering those questions can be a beneficial way of gauging how your child is doing. There also are other mediums to employ conversations, if they are old enough, such as email, text, phone calls, video chatting, or social media.
Many children also look toward more active methods of expressing their feelings, and parents should not be afraid of them doing so.
Exercising and sports can be a healthy and beneficial way of working through their anger or frustration with their parental divorce, and it can be something that the parent can do with the child. They need to know that you’re working through this too.
For parents whose children prefer reading and writing to physical activities, it can be beneficial for your child to work through their emotions in the form of a story. They may want to illustrate and write a story, utilizing their emotions and working through their parents’ divorce.
As difficult as it may be to read a story about your divorce, it is important to get your child’s perspective on the situation. Their words may be basic, but behind them is the complexity of their emotional state.
Like with all of these activities, as well activities like the Sesame Street Divorce Tool Kit, making a child understand that the divorce is not their fault and that they are allowed to feel the way that they feel, so long as they are aware that both parents will love them no matter what, is vital.
Co-parents need to utilize these activities, in order to create the new life that their child needs.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.