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Coping strategies for children dealing with divorce

Divorce can be a difficult and stressful time for children, as it can disrupt their sense of stability and security. Here are some coping strategies that children can use to deal with divorce:

  1. Communicate their feelings

Encourage children to talk about their feelings and emotions surrounding the divorce. Allow them to express their emotions freely and without judgment, and validate their feelings by acknowledging them. This can help children feel heard and understood, and may help them process their emotions more effectively.

  1. Maintain routines

Maintaining routines can help children feel a sense of stability and normalcy during a time of change. Try to keep regular schedules for meals, bedtimes, and other daily activities as much as possible. This can help children feel more secure and less anxious.

  1. Stay connected with both parents

Children need to feel connected to both parents during and after a divorce. Encourage children to maintain regular contact with both parents, whether through phone calls, video chats, or in-person visits. This can help children feel supported and loved by both parents.

  1. Seek support from family and friends

Children may benefit from seeking support from family members, friends, or other trusted adults during a divorce. These individuals can provide emotional support, a listening ear, and a sense of stability during a time of change.

  1. Take care of themselves

Encourage children to take care of themselves during a divorce. This includes eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and engaging in physical activity. It can also include engaging in self-care activities, such as reading, drawing, or spending time with friends.

  1. Seek professional support if needed

If children are struggling to cope with the divorce, or if their emotional or behavioral problems persist, it may be helpful to seek professional support from a counsellor. These professionals can provide additional support and guidance on coping strategies and emotional regulation techniques.

It is important to remember that every child is different, and may cope with divorce in their own way. Encouraging open communication, maintaining routines, staying connected with both parents, seeking support from family and friends, taking care of themselves, and seeking professional support if needed, are all strategies that can help children navigate the challenges of divorce and move forward in a positive and healthy way.

Co-Parenting Tips: Maintaining a Healthy Relationship with Your Children

The sun’s warm embrace filtered through the curtains of Mark’s living room, casting a soft glow over the space. As he sat at the dining table, sipping his morning coffee, his mind wandered to the days when family breakfasts had been a cherished routine. Divorce had redefined his family dynamic, but one thing remained constant: his unwavering commitment to maintaining a healthy relationship with his children through effective co-parenting.

Mark had always believed that a strong bond with his children was paramount, even in the face of separation. He recognized that co-parenting was an opportunity to provide stability and love during a time of upheaval. Drawing from his own experiences and countless conversations with other co-parents, Mark had distilled a set of co-parenting tips that not only helped him navigate the challenges but also nurtured a thriving connection with his children.

1. Open and Honest Communication: Communication was the cornerstone of successful co-parenting. Mark established an open channel of dialogue with his ex-wife, Lisa. They scheduled regular check-ins to discuss their children’s well-being, school updates, and any concerns. By fostering transparent communication, Mark and Lisa ensured their children received consistent messages and felt secure in their shared commitment.

2. Prioritizing the Children’s Needs: Mark understood that their children’s needs were paramount. Every decision was made with their best interests at heart, from scheduling visitations to important life decisions. By focusing on what was best for the kids, Mark and Lisa created an environment where their children felt valued and supported.

3. Creating a Consistent Routine: Stability provided a sense of security for the children. Mark and Lisa collaborated to establish a consistent routine that spanned both households. Bedtimes, meal schedules, and extracurricular activities mirrored each other as closely as possible, minimizing disruptions and helping the kids adjust to their new normal.

4. Unified Co-Parenting Strategy: Mark and Lisa presented a united front, even when their own emotions threatened to cloud their judgment. They agreed on essential parenting principles, disciplinary measures, and values, presenting a harmonious co-parenting front that reinforced their children’s sense of stability.

5. Embracing Flexibility: While structure was crucial, Mark also recognized the importance of flexibility. He and Lisa remained adaptable to the changing needs and circumstances of their children. Unexpected events arose, and they collaborated to find solutions that accommodated both parents’ schedules.

6. Respectful Co-Parenting Boundaries: Boundaries were essential to maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship. Mark and Lisa respected each other’s personal space and refrained from involving the children in adult matters. They ensured their interactions were courteous and focused on parenting matters only.

7. Celebrating Milestones Together: Mark and Lisa set aside their differences to celebrate important milestones in their children’s lives. From birthdays to school achievements, they attended events together, sending a powerful message of unity and love to their children.

8. Encouraging Positive Interaction: Mark went the extra mile to encourage positive interactions between his children and Lisa. He praised their mother’s strengths and supported their relationship with her, fostering an environment where the children felt safe expressing their emotions and maintaining a strong bond with both parents.

9. Flexing Empathy Muscles: Empathy was a powerful tool in Mark’s co-parenting arsenal. He constantly put himself in his children’s shoes, recognizing the challenges they faced as they adapted to their new reality. This empathy guided his decisions, ensuring he remained sensitive to their emotions.

10. Seeking Professional Guidance: Mark acknowledged that co-parenting was complex, and seeking guidance from a family therapist was a wise move. The therapist provided them with strategies for effective co-parenting, helping them navigate difficult conversations and emotions.

As the morning sun bathed the room in warmth, Mark felt a profound sense of gratitude for the co-parenting journey he had undertaken. His children’s laughter echoed in his memories, a testament to the dedication he had poured into nurturing their relationship. Mark’s co-parenting tips had not only helped him forge a strong bond with his children but also empowered him to face the challenges of divorce with grace and resilience. As he looked ahead, Mark was confident that the lessons he had learned would continue to shape his co-parenting journey, ensuring his children grew up in an environment filled with love, understanding, and unwavering support.

He was a father desperate to see his daughter, not the criminal he was.

Watch this powerful real story and listen to the effects and consequences of parental alienation.

Parental alienation refers to a situation in which one parent attempts to manipulate or influence a child’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviours to turn them against the other parent, often during or after a divorce or separation. It typically involves one parent (the alienating parent) engaging in behaviours that undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent (the target parent) with the intention of creating distance, hostility, or estrangement between the child and the target parent. These behaviours can take various forms, including:

  • Negative Talk: The alienating parent may consistently speak negatively about the target parent, portraying them as bad, dangerous, or uncaring. They might make false accusations or exaggerated claims to damage the child’s perception of the other parent.
  • Limiting Contact: The alienating parent may attempt to restrict or interfere with the child’s access to the target parent. This can involve withholding visitation, interfering with phone calls or communication, or failing to cooperate with parenting schedules.
  • Sabotaging the Relationship: Some alienating parents may create situations designed to sabotage the child’s time with the target parent, such as scheduling conflicting activities or appointments during visitation times.
  • Alienating Behaviour: The alienating parent may encourage the child to reject or resist the target parent, even when the child initially wants to maintain a relationship with both parents. This can involve emotional manipulation, guilt-tripping, or bribery.
  • False Allegations: Allegations of abuse, neglect, or other serious misconduct against the target parent, without evidence or validity, are sometimes used to manipulate the child and the legal system.

Parental alienation is considered harmful to children because it can lead to emotional and psychological distress. It can also have long-lasting negative effects on the child’s relationship with the target parent, their self-esteem, and their overall well-being. Courts and mental health professionals often address parental alienation in custody disputes by attempting to assess the situation, provide therapy or counselling, and establish strategies to rebuild and maintain a healthy relationship between the child and the target parent.

It’s important to note that parental alienation is a complex issue, and allegations of alienation should be carefully examined and substantiated before any actions are taken. Legal and mental health professionals play crucial roles in evaluating and addressing cases of parental alienation to ensure the best interests of the child are upheld.

What is “love” defined by kids

A survey was conducted at a primary school where children between the ages of 4-8 were asked “what is love”.  The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.

Such a simple question, this is what they said…

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”

– Rebecca – age 8

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”

– Billy – age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”

– Karl – age 5

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”

– Chrissy – age 6

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”

– Terri – age 4

“Love is when my my daddy makes me breakfast every morning”

– Ian – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.
My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss”

– Emily – age 8

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”

– Bobby – age 7

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”

– Nikka – age 6  (we need a few million more Nikkas on this planet)

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.”

– Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”

– Tommy – age 6

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared.  I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.

He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.”

– Cindy – age 8

“My daddy loves me more than anybody.
He reads to me.”

– Clare – age 6

“Love is when my Daddy gives me the best piece of chicken.”

– Elaine-age 5

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”

– Mary Ann – age 4

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.”

– Lauren – age 4

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.”

– Karen – age 7

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”

– Jessica – age 8

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These quotes were sent to GreatDad.com in an email without attribution. If this is your content, please let us know so we can post the source. Thanks.

Truth and Lies about the effects of Domestic Family Violence on Children

When people think of domestic and family violence, they often think of how much it hurts the adult victim. It’s true that domestic and family violence is most often violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour. But what you may not realise is that children also experience domestic violence and this affects their physical and emotional health and wellbeing. Growing up in a family where there is a perpetrator of Domestic Violence can cause serious long term mental health issues for the children of that home.

At Lifeline, Crisis Support Workers often talk to people who call up with anxiety, they are homeless, have been seeing a psychiatrist for their whole adult life, drug and have alcohol or drug addiction or both, depression, self harm, thoughts of suicide and social behavioural problems just to name a few!

Their life has been and is in crisis and there always seems to be a common threat to their background – they have grown up inside a home with Domestic Violence &/or Coercive Control towards a parent or even towards them.

Lets look at the Lies and the Truths about Domestic Family Violence…

LIES

  • It doesn’t effect the kids
  • The children will forget about it
  • The children are too young to understand what’s going on
  • Kids effected by DFV will always bounce back and get over it
  • Talking to kids about it will not help
  • Talking to kids about it will only confuse them
  • The perpetrator is good to the kids so they’ll be ok
  • So long as the children are not hit they’ll be ok
  • It won’t affect their education and development
  • It’ll teach the kids to be strong and tough
  • Life’s alway good when you are a kid
  • It’s part of our culture
  • It’s normal and acceptable
  • The violence is a way to show love

TRUTHS

  • It happens in all communities and at all levels of society
  • It can seriously harm children physically and emotionally
  • It can impact on babies and infants
  • Kids are affected even if they don’t see the violence
  • It prevents kids from feel safe
  • It can interfere with a Childs developments and education
  • It can affect a Childs relationship with other people
  • It can give kids nightmares, headaches, stomach pains and regular sickness
  • It damages a Childs self-esteem and confidence
  • Children often believe its their fault
  • It can lead to substance abuse in young people
  • Children can mirror that behaviour in their adult life
  • Talking about the problems with kids can help them
  • Effects on a child are reversible with the right help and support
  • There are services that can help children and families

Some useful Links

 

Parenting Plan (happy plan)

Many children worry about what will happen to them when their parents split up, and it can be a big relief to them if the arrangements become clear and predictable early on.  Working out a parenting plan as early and as quickly as possible serves many purposes such as it gets your children into a regular routine, you can have certainty around access, holidays, do we share in the buying of gifts and presents, do we share clothes etc.

Being as flexible as possible is a key factor in working out a fair and reasonable plan.  Whatever your parenting plan looks like it doesn’t have to be written down, but if you do write it down calling it a parenting plan is a good way to do it.  I called mine our “Happy Plan”, I wrote out a nice well written check list of the things and considerations I believed would be fair and reasonable for both of us.

After my ex had time to read and consider the plan, she then wrote one of her own (with some minor tweaks) and provided me with her version to consider.  It was pretty close to what I was asking for and we agreed we would use that as our agreed plan.  Everyone’s circumstances are very different and it can play a huge part in what the plan might look like, for example your work commitments, distance to travel, financial, accommodation and health etc.

Some things to consider and help you with ideas that could go into your plan:

  • What time your children will spend with each of you
  • What time your children will spend with other people, such as grandparents , siblings, step-parents or other people that are important to your children
  • What activities each of you will do with your children (e.g sports, homework, music) and whether both of you can agree to attend some important events with your children
  • How you will share parental responsibility and decision making about the big things (e.g what school your children will go to, decisions about healthcare )
  • How you will talk about and come to agreement on the important, long-term issues as your children grow, their needs change or either of the parent’s circumstances change.
  • How your children will keep in touch with the other parent and other people important to your children when they are with you i.e they have access at all times to use your mobile phone and can phone the other parent every night before bedtime
  • What arrangements need to be made for special occasions such as birthdays, religious or cultural events, holidays, school concerts, parent teacher interviews
  • Financial arrangements for the children. This may include some investigation on what payments you need to make and what is deemed fair, you can calculate this by visiting the Child Support Agency estimator.  These payments do not need to go through CSA and they can be paid to either party by private arrangements.
  • What process will be followed to change the plan or resolve any problems, if either parents circumstances change?

There are no strict rules around what a parenting Plan should look like but here are some other guidelines from Family Relationships Australia

Time spent on researching and designing one that works for you, your ex and your kids, will pay off in spades!

New dad tips for parenting infants and toddlers

Parenting infants and toddlers is amazing, rewarding and frustrating and it can happen all in the same day.
Imagine being a toddler for just a minute…they can’t articulate clearly what you want, they are completely managed by a parent, given food that you might not like, dressed and changed multiple times a day and restricted to the confines of a play pen, bed or high chair.

All very normal and right but it can cause the child to occasionally throw a tantrum and its these moments we find the most difficult.

There are somethings dad you can do to help reduce the stress in your household and possibly make tantrums less frequent, such as:

Love is the first step

Firstly its super important your infant or toddler feels unconditional love. We have spoken before of about providing Attention, Affirmation and Affection to your child, let’s face it who would feel secure and loved if they received the 3 A’s all the time.

Not to many rules

Don’t bombard your child with to many rules, make your home child safe so they can crawl around where ever they want without being told “not’ to do or touch that. It can eliminate one frustration. Your child might start to get frustrated if you are saying “no” all the time, so look for many opportunities to say “yes”.

If you are getting a lot of “no’s” try not to react, simply repeat the request in a nice calm voice. Is there some way you can make what your’e asking your child to do that could be made more fun? All aged children prefer to do tasks that are fun and enjoyable.

Give them choices

If its changing into PJ’s and he or she doesn’t want to, try getting two out for them to choice which one they would prefer to put on. Same goes with going to bed, its always a trigger for pushback. Try getting two books and asking which one will we read tonight?

If there is a power struggle and we know there will be, you can use choices like “Its bed time, would you prefer to brush your teeth or put your Pyjamas on first?

Stick to a routine as if your life depends on it

Children of all ages operate far better if there is a strict routine in the home. So they know exactly what to expect each day, whether it be morning or night. I know it can become boring and mundane but trust me on this one…have routines and scheduled time for things every day and stick to it.
Routines help children feel safe and secure. Because when you introduce things that happen the same time every day, things like waking up, breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time, cleaning your teeth, what time you come home from work, time for a snack or a sleep, it allows the child to trust you and they are left feeling emotionally secure to just play, explore and be a child.

Be a good role model

Set examples, remember you might not think your child is listening but I guarantee they are watching everything you do.

  • Your moods
  • How you speak to your partner
  • How you react to news
  • If your an easy push over and don’t stick to routines
  • Do you keep the home clean and tidy
  • Do you cook nutritious meals
  • Are you comforting and nurturing with them
  • Are you intentional about the time you spend with them
  • Everything you do and say is teaching your child how to behave.

Teaching your infant or toddler new skills

You will find you get push back probably because your child doesn’t know how to do what you are asking?
Teaching them how to perform simple tasks like putting on a jumper, or putting toys away can be a great start. Start teaching them by talking through the instructions of each task whilst you perform them.

“ok Jimmy, lets pick up all the yellow toys and put them back in the box, see 1,2,3. Then we pick up the blue balls and put them in the box, 1 blue ball, 2 blue ball, 3 blue balls, into the box so they can rest for the night and it keeps the room clean and tidy. Why don’t you show me how you can pick up the pencils and put them in the box too?

Teach instruction on everything you do from the earliest age possible and before you know it, you will have a more ready to help child and less tantrums.

What tips or ideas have you got that you could share with other first time dads? Share them below in the comments box.

 

The first night…

Do you remember the first night after separation or divorce when your child stayed over with you?

You can do it You've got thisI was a little nervous, I just had to step up , plan and ensure it all worked. I very quickly got in the swing of things and it worked out well. The rest is history!

Some of the initial scary thoughts that ran through my head were catering for breakfast, lunch and dinners every day, planning activities and going to the toilet whilst we were out?  This all was now all up to me, no sharing any more, just me.  I felt I grew up quickly because my desire to care for my child outweighed the hard work that I knew lay ahead of me.  I’m not sure but I think it was a mix of perspiration and desperation that got me through, I got used to planning and preparing then we were off and running.

I can’t help but think some mothers would experience the same scary thoughts, for many Dads like me, we could never talk about that, too busy hating each other.

There is definitely something empowering and rewarding when you know you have managed your access days well.  You get better at everything, you start to get a repertoire of recipes, you know what size clothes and shoes they wear.  You know their taste in music, books and movies, you share laughter together and one on one time, you understand morning routines and of course all the hissy fits that goes with it.  The sense of owning that space feels good even if it is only every second weekend.

You little girl can always bury her head in your shoulder if you go to the mens toilets.When we were out and about, and it came time to take her to the toilet or maybe I needed to go? she came with me and simply buried her face into my shoulder when we walked through the mens to the cubical, Always a good time to try and get them to go too, even if they don’t feel like it. When she was big enough to go on her own, I would stand near the door of the female toilets and didn’t move until she came out.  The wheel chair access toilets are gold!!

? I remember we were at the swimming centre one day when I walked into what I thought was the mens change room and proceeded to help my daughter change into her bathers, when a women in a towel came out of the showers ? For a few seconds I really thought she was the one in the wrong change room. Then she said “I think you are in the wrong room” I apologised and left, honest mistake but laugh every time I think about it.

Do you have experiences that you can share?

Would your son or daughter know how to land a Airbus A380?

NO?…Your right! because know one has shown them how too and they would crash for sure.

Its the same as your child handling new situations in life as they get older.
If they are not told how best to handle and cope with situations, they’ll probably crash.
There are many disappointments through-out life from not getting that job, breaking up in a relationship, not having the money or falling out of friendship.

One of the best things a parent can do is to talk about these things when the time is right and be a good listener.

Just leaving them to work it out or to cope from their own experiences is not helping your child build resilience or to cope and move past the upset…and we know it will past, so take the time when those moments arrive and sit down and talk it through.

Some advice I could give would be to sit down and workshop healthy solutions to problems, make sure that your child understands that they won’t be able to fix every problem straight away, and that’s ok.

Because problems generally don’t get solved immediately, there will be some stress going on so its important to talk about how to relieve the stress whilst things are working out, don’t forget to mention they always do but they might not be able to see it at right away.

When talking about coping with stressful or sad situations, try and align it to what normally your child would do in better times and that could be…watch a favourite movie, swimming, exercise, listening to music or self guided meditation, reading, drawing, talking the dog or recommend and help them do something that makes them happy, this can help relieve stress, sadness or upset.

It is super helpful that your child discuss’s their problem with someone they trust. You are their parent and a significant person in their life but depending on their age i.e. teenagers, they might not want to share it all with you so get them together with a person they would trust like a friend, family member or even a counsellor, they can all be very helpful.

A couple of things to remember:

When your child is sad, it’s a perfectly normal emotion and everyone feels sad sometimes. The difference between depression and feeling sad is that depression will hang around and sadness will disappear.

There are so many reasons people can feel sad:

  • You have had an argument with someone
  • You’re feeling isolated
  • You had a bad day at work
  • Someone said something nasty to you
  • Your relationship has ended
  • You didn’t get that job interview
  • You failed on a test
  • Parents have decided to separate

There are professional services that can be there if that is a better situation for your child, such as:

  • Kids Helpline – www.kidshelpline.com.au 1800 55 1800 for 5 to 25 year olds.
  • Lifeline – www.lifeline.org.au 131114 for all ages
  • ReachOut – www.au.reachout.com 
  • Suicide Call Back Service – www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au 1300 659 467
  • 1800respect – www.1800respect.org.au 1800 737 732

If anyone is in danger call 000 immediately, it’s better to keep safe than be sorry you didn’t act earlier.

 

Establishing good communication with your children’s Mother

This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your children. No longer required or is it appropriate to discuss aspects of your life such as feelings, hopes, dreams, plans, finances or what you did today. Share this stuff with friends and other people but never your ex.

There must be a line drawn in the sand that any intimate discussions are out! You both must acknowledge that you are never getting back together. To lead a healthy life going forward, which allows you both to move onto healthier relationships, your discussions from here on are purely around the welfare of your children.

Appropriate and healthy discussions is one element of having shared parenting. Everything to do with the kids like, education, sport, medical, emotional and general well-being is what should be open for discussion. There are some separated or divorced couples that can have a meal or a cup of coffee together to work through their children joint plans but there are others that face to face meetings always turns into arguments. It’s mostly because the discussion goes off topic. Know your limitations and work with it, but don’t ask your children to be the messenger or for them to be the mediator.

You must be the adult and put differences aside and focus discussions purely on what needs to be worked out for the children. As mentioned most arguments happen when you go off topic, writing down what needs to be discussed and stay on topic. When you work out whatever it is, it’s then time to call it a meeting, telephone call, or coffee?

You both don’t have a relationship anymore, you are only co/parenting your children. Nothing else matters or should be of interest to the either party.

If you have a terrible relationship with your ex and can’t stand the site of each other, it would be best to communicate by email and making sure that you monitor the tone and stick to only what must be discussed. It might even be necessary to seek a formal agreement or parenting plan covering the responsibilities of each parent, the more that can be pre agreed to the less contact you need to have with each other, which means the less stress , more routine and consistency and less anxiety if communication is poor.

Consistent and a routine is great for everyone but life has it that sometimes things come up that will prevent you from having the children over during your agreed time. It could be from you, your ex or something your children have on, when this happens and it will, don’t look for make-up time, simply let your ex know that something has come up and you’ll speak to your child but will just need to pick up from the next agreed time.

Its important to support and promote healthy friendship groups for your children

As your children get older, they will have things that will stop them from coming over from time to time. Treat this as normal, it’s not personal, they just like to be with their friends (they still love you). Best thing you can do is be supportive of this, be flexible and go with the flow.

Share your comments below so others can learnt from your experiences.

The Do’s and Don’ts of managing the time your child has with you.

Not living with your child everyday can make some Dads very protective, even jealous of time with your children. While many people would think this is a normal emotion it also highlights a need to look at things differently so that your protectiveness does not effect your children or your relationship with them.

It’s not about the time you have with your child. Rather, it’s the time your child has with you.

As children get older, they take on more and more external activities such as sport, friends and school activities etc and these activities can start to get in the way of your time. The feelings your experiencing are normal. But remember they are normal growing and developments pains. Understanding this and being accepting and flexible will only benefit you and your child’s growth and development.

If you are selfishly protective of your time with your children, if you believe that they would prefer to spend time on their own personal activities or with their friends rather than you, or if you complain and whinge, and think that their mother promotes this over spending time with you then you are gravely mistaken. Making your kids feel guilty about not spending their “allocated” time with you will only distance yourself from them and never achieve a normal relationship with your kids.

The best thing you can do is to show everyone including your children that their best interests are your top priority by displaying flexibility, understanding and maturity. You will gain major points with your kids if you approach it in this way.

DO’s

  • Support and encourage your child’s healthy activities.
  • Provide financial, emotional and moral support.
  • Always offer transportation and logistical support even if its not on your time or if its not the activity you would have chosen.
  • Promote practise time of all activities when they are with you.
  • Let your child go to sleep-overs or visit their friends even when its on your time.
  • Promote your child to have friends sleep-over at your place, this will help keep the normalicy around your home.
  • Get involved if possible with their sport and be a volunteer at the club.

Don’ts

  • Deny your child good things to get involved in such as healthy activities, promote these activities always.
  • Be upset that these activities get in the way of your time with them. Instead where possible get involved in their activities (in a non intrusive manner).
  • Ask your ex for “make-up” time for the time you have missed because of these other activities. Being a Dad and sacrificing time is normal and it is a growing experience for you as well as them.
  • Make your child feel guilty or sad “EVER” for the time that they miss with you. Your child’s healthy active activity is far better than being forced to stay at home.

If you do this right, I can’t stress how much this will benefit you. It will assist in your Children’s adjustment and development, they’ll have a positive attitude towards you, request more time with you, and your relationship with them will be more normal.

Share your experiences as a separated parent and be part of the conversation, it can benefit many dads going through separation.

Note: Some phrases and points I have used from a good read called: Wednesday Evenings and Every other Weekend.

What to say to the kids?

These were the hardest conversations I ever had! I am sure that every dad and mum dreads telling there children that they are separating.  I wish I had of had tips on what to say to the kids.  It is the most difficult and awkward situation to comes to terms with as they are the last people on earth you would want to hurt or disappoint!

My kids were unaware of the real difficulties we were going through and it was a surprise when they learned that we were separating.  I definitely had the what, hows and why’s?  How to answer them is important and having some insight and working together with your ex on what they actually want from you both post separation is the key to keeping it all together.

Below are some of the responses to many of the tough conversations you will go through.

What to say and how to say it:

Difficult as it may be to do, try to strike an empathetic tone and address the most important points right up front. Give your children the benefit of an honest—but kid-friendly—explanation.

  •  Tell the truth. Your kids are entitled to know why you are getting a divorce, but long-winded reasons may only confuse them. Pick something simple and honest, like “We can’t get along anymore.” You may need to remind your children that while sometimes parents and kids don’t always get along, parents and kids don’t stop loving each other or get divorced from each other.
  •  Say “I love you.” However simple it may sound, letting your children know that your love for them hasn’t changed is a powerful message. Tell them you’ll still be caring for them in every way, from making their breakfast to helping with homework.
  •  Address changes. Preempt your kids’ questions about changes in their lives by acknowledging that some things will be different now, and other things won’t. Let them know that together you can deal with each detail as you go.

Avoid Blaming:

It’s vital to be honest with your kids, but without being critical of your spouse. This can be especially difficult when there have been hurtful events, such as infidelity, but with a little diplomacy, you can avoid playing the blame game.

  •  Present a united front. As much as you can, try to agree in advance on an explanation for your separation or divorce—and stick to it.
  •  Plan your conversations. Make plans to talk with your children before any changes in the living arrangements occur. And plan to talk when your spouse is present, if possible.
  •  Show restraint. Be respectful of your spouse when giving the reasons for the separation.

How much information to give:

Especially at the beginning of your separation or divorce, you’ll need to pick and choose how much to tell your children. Think carefully about how certain information will affect them.

  •  Be age-aware. In general, younger children need less detail and will do better with a simple explanation, while older kids may need more information.
  •  Share logistical information. Do tell kids about changes in their living arrangements, school, or activities, but don’t overwhelm them with the details.
  •  Keep it real. No matter how much or how little you decide to tell your kids, remember that the information should be truthful above all else.

Helping the kids express their feelings:

For kids, divorce can feel like loss: the loss of a parent, the loss of the life they know. You can help your children grieve and adjust to new circumstances by supporting their feelings.

  •  Listen. Encourage your child to share their feelings and really listen to them. They may be feeling sadness, loss or frustration about things you may not have expected.
  •  Help them find words for their feelings. It’s normal for children to have difficulty expressing their feelings. You can help them by noticing their moods and encouraging them to talk.
  •  Let them be honest. Children might be reluctant to share their true feelings for fear of hurting you. Let them know that whatever they say is okay. If they aren’t able to share their honest feelings, they will have a harder time working through them.
  •  Acknowledge their feelings. You may not be able to fix their problems or change their sadness to happiness, but it is important for you to acknowledge their feelings rather than dismissing them. You can also inspire trust by showing that you understand.

What I need from my mum and dad after divorce (from your child’s’ point of view):

  •  I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write letters, make phone calls, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
  •  Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
  •  I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. Please support me and the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
  •  Please communicate directly with my other parent so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth.
  •  When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don’t say anything at all. When you say mean, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side.
  •  Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life. I count on my mum and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problems

Clearing up misunderstandings:

Many kids believe that they had something to do with the divorce, recalling times they argued with their parents, received poor grades, or got in trouble. You can help your kids let go of this misconception.

  •  Set the record straight. Repeat why you decided to get a divorce. Sometimes hearing the real reason for your decision can help.
  •  Be patient. Kids may seem to “get it” one day and be unsure the next. Treat your child’s confusion or misunderstandings with patience.
  •  Reassure. As often as you need to, remind your children that both parents will continue to love them and that they are not responsible for the divorce.

 Give reassurance and love:

Children have a remarkable ability to heal when given the support and love they need. Your words, actions, and ability to remain consistent are all important tools to reassure your children of your unchanging love.

  •  Both parents will be there. Let your kids know that even though the physical circumstances of the family unit will change, they can continue to have healthy, loving relationships with both of their parents.
  •  It’ll be okay. Tell kids that things won’t always be easy, but that they will work out. Knowing it’ll be all right can provide incentive for your kids to give a new situation a chance.
  •  Closeness. Physical closeness—in the form of hugs, pats on the shoulder, or simple proximity—has a powerful way of reassuring your child of your love.
  •  Be honest. When kids raise concerns or anxieties, respond truthfully. If you don’t know the answer, say gently that you aren’t sure right now, but you’ll find out and it will be okay.

The comfort routines:

The benefit of schedules and organisation for younger children is widely recognised, but many people don’t realise that older children appreciate routine, as well. Kids feel safer and more secure when they know what to expect next. Knowing that, even when they switch homes, dinnertime is followed by a bath and then homework, for example, can set a child’s mind at ease.

Maintaining routine also means continuing to observe rules, rewards, and discipline with your children. Resist the temptation to spoil kids during a divorce by not enforcing limits or allowing them to break rules.

Thank you to the Help Guide for content.