Helping children deal with divorce
Hello military community,
As we focus on military children this month I want to touch on a subject I not only relate to but unfortunately seems to be happening a lot within our military community. The dreaded “D” word – divorce! Divorce can be traumatic in any child’s life, especially for a military child with one or both parent deploying every two years to war or some far off city or town.
In all likelihood, your divorce will be remembered as one of the most painful and difficult times in your child’s life. It is a massive psychological trauma that can have many unwanted emotional side effects and affects every aspect of their lives – at home and at school. It affects every child differently and for various different reasons.
With my parents’ divorce, it was a long time coming and was a blessing when finalized. The pain in my brother’s life and mine could have been less and avoided in various ways. But because of the delay, we heard and saw more than any child should. We were both scared from the daily fights, blame game, accusations, control, emotional and psychological issues and using us kids as sounding boards.
As children we carried these scares into all future relationships we had and into our marriages. We ended up being mentally older than our time. I won’t speak for my brothers issues but for me; it is control, independence and not sharing my emotions or personal thoughts unless I am angry. And patience – what is that? Thankfully with the birth of my daughter I learned to loosen up a little in some of those areas but I am sure I am still no peach to live with at times.
With that said, there is no doubt as parents we all want the best for our children, so here are a few things that you might be able to do to make the process easier.
Negative behaviors will only create more confusion and stress for your children
- DO NOT argue in front of your children
- DO NOT speak badly of your ex-spouse
- DO NOT make snide remarks
- DO NOT make your child choose sides
- DO NOT make your child into a confidant
- DO NOT make promises to your child for events and vacations that do not fall on your visitation (as military service members this will be especially hard as your schedule can change at any time)
- DO NOT allow your child to stay up late, become disrespectful, get spoiled with gifts, or act as if they run the house. (I know this can be hard. Kids need structure and stability not you being their friend because you feel guilty)
- DO NOT give up your status as an authority figure to your child. Again, kids need structure and stability
- Positive behaviors will lessen the confusion and stress for children
- Throughout the trails of divorce and moving, provide reassurance and love to your kids every step of the way
- Always make therapy available for you and your child
- Define a plan for your parenting that will address your child’s needs and also (if possible) allow equal access to the children
- Reaffirm in your children the knowledge that both parents love them and are open to listen if they need to talk or express themselves at any time
- STAY INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILD’S LIFE
If you need guidance or help finding a counselor contact Military OneSource via: www.militaryonesource.mil. They have many resources and programs for children.
If you need further resources in this area or another; feel free to contact me.
Blessings from my family to yours,
If you have any questions or concerns or would like to share a story or situation, contact me at Kim@MilitaryResourceBooks.com and visit my website at MilitaryResourceBooks.com for updated information and other resources not listed in my book.