Of all the changes in your kids’ lives after separation, perhaps the most challenging is that one of their parents will no longer be in the next room to help with homework or tuck them in at night.
This sense of missing the other parent will no doubt continue for your kids.
If you feel your child is struggling to cope with your separation because they miss the parent they are not with, here are ways to overcome the issue and help them thrive.
THEY’RE GONNA MISS YOU
Kids feel a sense of connection to both parents, so it’s normal for them to miss the parent they’re not with.
So how can you help your kids to move forward positively when they are experiencing missing each of their parents at different times?
Here are 5 tips to help you out.
Further reading: Divorce and children: How to help your kids cope with the changes.
RESPECT THE LOVE
Do your best to respect your kids’ love for your co-parent. It’s totally understandable if you have mixed feelings about your co-parent. But no matter how you feel about your ex, try to separate those feelings from the needs of your kids.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY
Avoid at all costs the temptation to speak badly about the other parent in front of your kids. You will only hurt their feelings at a time when they need to find a sense of balance and security.
Unless there are Family Court orders to the contrary, or there is a risk of the safety of your kids, when they want to contact their other parent, let them. You will have happier and more relaxed kids, and your co-parent may just follow your lead.
See this article for more support: Best video calling apps to help with co-parenting.
BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Let your kids to settle into their other home. Keep telephone calls short and sweet. Too much contact from you can make things harder for your kids.
If your kids are involved in an activity or a meal with your co-parent, get them to return your call when they are free so that their time is not interrupted. Your co-parent will appreciate the respect you are showing and may well do the same for you.
MISSING PARENTS AS A CHILD OF DIVORCE (CONT.)
Sometimes kids worry about the parent who they are not with. They worry that you are missing them or that you will be lonely without them. It can really make a difference to do what you can to ease their concerns. Let your kids know that while you will miss them when they’re away from you, you are okay.
Around two years ago I met a little boy whilst I was travelling on a plane to a conference in Brisbane. The little boy was travelling with his father to spend time with his grandmother and he was excited about the plane trip. I guessed that he was around 5 years old.
The boy sat next to me on the plane, with his father sitting in the next seat along. He was a very chatty little guy who told me his name was Eric. When our snack was offered, Eric was beside himself with excitement and I watched him lean over to his dad and say, “Can I call Mum to tell her about the cheese and biscuits?”
Eric’s dad gently explained that he couldn’t call Mum just now. Then I witnessed an amazing thing that almost brought me to tears. Eric’s dad handed Eric an old blue teddy bear. Clearly it was a much-loved toy. He said to Eric, “Tell Bear about it.” Eric then turned to me and said, “I talk to Bear all the time. When I miss my Mum or Dad, I tell Bear. And when I have something that I want Mum or Dad to know, and they’re not with me, I tell Bear. Then Bear helps me to remember what I need to say to them when I see them again.”
Eric’s bear was a simple and effective way of reminding Eric that it’s okay to miss his parents when he is not with either of them, but that he’ll see them again soon.
LIFE GOES ON
The journey might have started like a rollercoaster, but I’m here to tell you that it is possible to get past the extreme ups and downs and begin establishing a new normal for your family.
Hey, there are perks to this new life right!
Continue to focus on growing resilient, capable, confident and happy kids and it will all be okay.
Remember, raising positive, well-adjusted kids isn’t about being a perfect parent or having the perfect co-parenting relationship. We all make our share of mistakes on the parenting journey.
Focus on the things you can change and what you can influence. Stay connected to your people and the activities that help you feel good about yourself and keep finding ways to move forward.