Divorce is a time for disconnect. It’s not uncommon for you to feel alone, rejected and insecure in the months following your divorce. So can your children. It is important for you to strengthen your bond with your children during this time of transition – whether you are living with them or apart.
Children want to know they are still loved, valued and cared about. Show them, tell them and keep in close communication with them – during the happy times and the sad ones. They need to know they have a safe place to turn, a shoulder to cry on and a non-judgmental ear when they need it. If divorce has been tough on you – remember it’s even tougher on them – whether they confide that to you or not.
Here are five important ways to reinforce your connection with the children you love.
1. Connect through notes:
If you’re living together, slip a note in your child’s lunch box or notebook every few days. A quick joke, cartoon, reminder about a special event ahead or just a warm “I Love You!” will let them know they’re on your mind and in your heart. If you’re not spending time together, send an email note or a quick text message to convey that you’re thinking about them.
2. Connect through idle chats:
Take advantage of idle moments here and there when you’re together with your child. Driving in the car is a great time to ask questions, share your feelings, and be empathic about their comments. When you’re helping them with homework, cooking meals together or doing other chores you can strike up a conversation as well. Just be careful not to turn these communications into lectures. You’re there to listen, reflect and learn. If you judge or condemn, you’ll close the door to hearing any more.
3. Connect through bedtime routine:
It’s always wise to create a before bedtime routine with your children that integrates warm connection. Spend time reading books on changing themes, talk about your own childhood memories and challenges. Share your own insecurities and how you overcame them. It’s also beneficial to ask your child about the best part of their day or a new lesson they learned. Bedtime routines help you both unwind and appreciate one another. It also creates a security bond that most children really value.
4. Connect through a new project:
After divorce many things change in a child’s life. It’s a good opportunity to create connection through new projects that take on special meaning. Whether it’s a multi-day puzzle, a plastic model you complete together, new shelves or other decorating project in their bedroom, this shared time is a wonderful time to talk, listen to music and make a stress-free connection.
5. Connect through special dates:
Every now and then create a special outing alone with just one of your children. Take them to lunch, the zoo, a big-city shopping trip, a sports game or a wonderful movie. Children cherish alone time with you and the opportunity to catch up with one another without competition from siblings. Prepare this “date” in advance so you both have something to look forward to. End the date with a token gift as a keepsake “reminder” of your time together.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to reinforce your connection with your children, especially as you all transition through and after a divorce. It’s the sincerity of your effort, not the money you spend, that impacts their lives and helps them to feel safe, loved and secure despite the changes and challenges created by the divorce.
Connection time will also heighten your awareness about your children’s attitudes, moods and feelings so you can address potential problems early-on before they become serious behavior issues. Create the time to keep connected with your kids. You won’t regret it!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, is a Certified Corporate Trainer, relationship seminar facilitator and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For free articles, an ezine and other valuable resources about Child-Centered Divorce visit //www.childcentereddivorce.com. To order her new ebook, visit //www.howdoitellthekids.com.
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Great points as usual, Rosalind. I especially remember my dad (non custodial) doing #3 for a while. To this day (30 years later), it still remains as one of my favorite childhood memories of him.
If only parents realized the long-term benefits of their conscious behaviors and the happy memories they were creating through some very simple routines and strategies designed to keep connected to their children. Thanks for your comments.
Excellent points for my clients dealing with child custody disputes. It really is about the children and not about the adults……
I loved your suggestions. Our time for reflection is dinner. All the phones, computers and TV go off. We prepare the dinner, set the table and eat together. We talk and discuss everything. When we are done we pitch in to clean up. The dinner table is the place of healing and gowth and if the schedule changes my girls do not like it.
Appreciate your feedback! Once parents understand that their decisions totally effect how their children will cope with the divorce, they are more likely to think before they act — a smart strategy!
John, your comments are an inspiration. I wish all parents understood the value of time together as a family. It strengthens the relationship, builds safety and trust, encourages confiding and important conversations and reminds children how much their parents love and care about them! Keep up the great parenting!
For more valuable co-parenting tips, hope readers will subscribe to my free ezine: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.
I am glad to say I do each of these. I am so glad you reminded me to do them more often!
Appreciate your feedback, John. Yes, reminders are important for all of us so we don’t take for granted essential parenting skills after divorce.