Divorce triggers many changes that can be difficult on the whole family, and especially on children. However, transitions to new living arrangements and schedules can be made easier when parents make communication a top priority. Here are some tips for parents on ways to keep the lines of communication open during this, and any, time of great transition.
Observations, is a key part of effectively communicating with your child. Is your son or daughter unusually withdrawn or are they typically prone to irritability and anger? It’s important to take note of any signs of stress that your child may display due to challenging factors such as parental disputes, new living arrangements or a new school. This way, you will be prepared to address your child’s feelings as soon as possible and before they develop into life-changing problems.
No matter what their age, make sure to check in with your child multiple times per day. This way, communicating about your children’s feelings becomes as natural as a casual conversation. It is also an opportune time to model appropriate conversational skills with your child.
Take the time to listen to your child when you check in with them, giving them as much undivided attention as is possible. A great way for a busy parent to give attention to a child while still getting tasks done is to visit while doing chores together such as folding laundry, picking up toys or preparing dinner. An added plus about talking while doing an activity, especially with avoidance-prone teenagers, is that the focus is on the activity and not solely on the child.
Keeping the lines of communication open and flowing doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your day, but it does need to be intentional. Creating consistency is key to weathering the inevitable difficulties and adjustment period of any transition and improvement in communication begins when you build trust through consistency.
Divorce also presents a time of great change and transition for you and you’ll need support. Choose to surround yourself with friends, family, and professionals that you can count on as your support system and make sure that these individuals reflect your values.