Guest column: Having a vision for your child
When parents’ divorce, it can be a traumatic situation for children. The normal routines and rituals they are used to get disrupted and so many things in their lives are changing all at once. Establishing new routines and rituals can help ease the transition they are experiencing.
As a parent, it’s vital to be aware of your child’s emotions and how they’re responding to these changes in their life, said Katey Masri, coordinator for Oklahoma State University Extension’s Co-Parenting for Resilience program.
“Children often respond to divorce in various ways. You and your co-parent know your child best, and it’s important for both of you to stay attuned to their needs and help them overcome these new challenges they’re facing,” Masri said. “The trauma of divorce is hard on children, but parents can help them be resilient and overcome the difficulties.”
Obviously, divorce can be hard on children, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. There are things parents can do to lessen the impact on their child and help guide them toward a bright future. By the same token, it’s important to realize there are things parents may do that can make the situation even more difficult, as well.
Masri said having a vision and setting goals is a great way to take control of the situation and help put your children on a positive path.
“It’s important to keep in mind you cannot control the actions of your co-parent. However, knowing the path you and your children are on allows you to respond to some of the challenges you’re facing,” she said. “Child success is predicted by how parents ‘parent’ after the divorce. A divorce is stressful for everyone involved and can change the way you parent.”
It’s best to use a balanced style of parenting, which focuses on emotional expression, love and support for the child’s needs and their best interests. Establish new routines and rituals as soon as you can in an effort to provide a sense of normalcy for the child while they are still adjusting to the fact their parents are divorcing.
Always be available to listen when your child comes to you and wants to talk. Let them show their emotions and feelings about the divorce.
“Sometimes this can be hard to hear but allowing them to share what they’re feeling is key to helping them bounce back and have a bright future,” Masri said.
Balanced parenting also involves firm but appropriate discipline and open conversations about why the child is being disciplined. When parents use balanced parenting, children tend to be responsible, confident, caring and happy individuals.
“We understand co-parenting is can be difficult, but it’s important for your child’s future,” she said.
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.