Helping Your Child When You’re Separated

How do you help your children when you find yourself separated, divorced or estranged from your spouse?

Let me recommend the following ways to help your children adjust:

1. Understand laws and process.
2. Work out the immediate issues.
3. Tell your child together when the decision to separate or divorce is made.
4. Anticipate questions your child may have.
5. Avoid custody disputes: consider mediation.
6. Expect an adjustment period.
7. Examine your coping style.
8. Develop a support system for your self.
9. Manage the stress in your life.
10. Communicate effectively with your ex-spouse.
11. Do not argue with your ex-spouse in front of your child.
12. Do not use your child as a messenger or spy.
13. Do not use your child as an ally.
14. Do not place restrictions on what your child can tell your ex-spouse.
15. Do not criticize your ex-spouse in your child’s presence.
16. Redefine your relationship with your ex-spouse.
17. Encourage involvement of the noncustodial parent.
18. Ensure frequent and predictable contact between your child and noncustodial parent.
19. Make visitation transitions smooth.
20. Effectively handle birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.
21. Change the way you think about your child.
22. Expect your child to play one parent against the other.
23. Maintain regular child support payments.
24. Minimize changes.
25. Maintain family traditions and rituals.
26. Develop a parenting plan.
27. Nurture your relationship with your child.
28. Have fun with your child.
29. Communicate “I love you” to your child.
30. Encourage your child to express feelings.
31. Be consistent with discipline.
32. Monitor your child’s activities.
33. Monitor school performance.
34. Build your child’s self esteem.
35. Develop greater patience and regain your lost patience.
36. Never blame your child for the separation or divorce.
37. Do not make promises you might not keep.
38. Do not overcompensate for your separation or divorce.
39. Do not burden your child with your personal and financial concerns.
40. Set a good example of how to handle the separation/divorce.
41. Deal with your child’s unrealistic expectations directly.
42. Do not compare your child to your ex-spouse in a negative way.
43. Accept your child’s love for the other parent.
44. Honor sibling relationships.
45. Encourage your child’s relationships with extended family members.
46. Help your child cope if the noncustodial parent becomes uninvolved.
47. Think about when and how to introduce individuals you date.
48. Effectively handle new family combinations.
49. Seek professional help for your child if needed.
50. Think positive, have faith in God.

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