Tell children dating after divorce
If the mother subsequently joins a loss group or seeks counseling, it might be helpful for the children to be invited to meet the therapist or pastor or group leader so that they can get direct reassurance that the helper understands how important the parent is and that the helper will be available as long as help is needed. ” can help you avoid making statements that are misleading if taken absolutely literally.
I’m always happy to help.” “Well, for one thing, you never wash the dishes.” “And what about you?So talk with children about what they might have seen or heard: “When you heard us fighting, you may have wondered what was happening and felt worried and scared.” “Today when Aunt Ruth came to get you at school, did you guess that something bad had happened?” Beginning this way also encourages the child to think, “I am the sort of person who can figure out what is happening.” Corroborating what the child has noticed sends one more reassuring signal that the child is a thinking person, able to make sense of the world and therefore able to understand significant happenings.If the loss entails the departure of a parent (whether because of a new job assignment, parental separation, serious illness, or incarceration), it is best for both parents to tell the news together, so that the child has the chance to understand that everyone is involved in what is happening and that, regardless of the change, they are still a family.If the loss is the result of parental conflict (separation or divorce), it is particularly important for each parent to take special care to avoid influencing the child’s reactions and to do whatever is necessary to reduce the likelihood that the child will feel caught in the middle of a parental conflict that requires choosing a side.Consequently, when talking about a loss, you should deliberately relax any unwritten rules that children should not be “nosy” about the affairs of their elders and encourage your children to voice their questions and to confirm their own observations about what has been going on in the family.
Remember: when a child suffers a loss, very little about what has happened is none of the child’s business.
Each helps the child recover from the loss, accept what has happened, and move toward healing.
Although children may have a mixture of these feelings, shifting among them over time, it is not unusual for one reaction to predominate at first, and then for the child to begin work on another as the first subsides.
Three times this week I’ve had to remind you to put things back where they belong.” It is important to remember that, just as adults under stress may revert to concrete thinking, so children under stress often regress to earlier thought processes and patterns or mix different types of thinking.
Consequently, even if a child’s age suggests that he or she is in the concrete thinking stage, care should be taken to heed the guidelines appropriate for magical thinking as well.
Youngsters who do not have the chance to exchange good-byes or to receive permission to move on sometimes are more likely to sustain additional damage to their basic sense of trust and security to their self esteem, and to their ability to initiate and sustain strong relationships.