Divorce is hard enough on a family, but when a spouse just walks out, leaving the other parent and children, it causes a lot more confusion and pain. So, how do you handle this? There are immediate actions a parent must take to bring security and comfort to the home. Then there is the long road to recovery from the shock that the children have experienced.
Getting started – To-Do List
If there is one thing you will read often on SmartDivorceNetwork.com, it is to take one step at a time, but keep moving. So, it will pay to sit down and make a list of what you need to actually do. Very soon you will feel the emotions of the situations take over every person in the house and probably more than one time. Here are some tips on what you need to begin with.
Set Boundaries – Change the locks
No doubt it was a shock when you realized you were now the only adult in the home. You have your work laid out for you. So, the last thing you need is your ex (or soon to be ex) walk back in and out again whenever he feels like it. It not only causes friction in the home, it confuses young children.
Communicate – as much as it takes
No matter their age, the children will show distress. How they express the distress will depend on how well they communicate. This means you will spend a lot of time communicating with them. Speaking with them and assuring them that they will be okay will be an exercise you will probably repeat. Even if you have told them over and over, they will find times when they need to hear it again.
Take some time for you
While you are busy helping the kids learn that you are under control, you are going to have to find time to discover yourself. You will learn that you are stronger, and maybe less stressed. You may even find that you have dreams and goals that you have ignored for a long time. So find yourself and decide where you want to go.
Emotions – everybody has them
It is okay to “not” be okay. You are going to say goodbye to some dreams. You are going to be scared, lonely, mad, and even a little sorry for yourself sometimes. Just like everyone else, it is okay to visit these places as long as you don’t stay too long. Emotions are like currency. Spend them, and leave them.
Keep a positive attitude
It is really easy to see all the ugly in the world when you are dealing with hurt people all day. Especially when the people are your children and the pain came from someone you trusted. But there is a lot of good ahead. You are building a good relationship with your kids. You are in a strong frame of mind before going to court. Your life is going to be better, just keep pushing.
Photo credit: Mohamed Abdelgaffar
Do they need some help?
Most children adjust through these times with patience. There are a lot of articles that suggest otherwise. Most children will go through distress and express some behavior problems. Some older children will lash out at other children and even try to bully others to make kids who seem to have perfect lives feel as bad as they do. These kids may need help, but right now, they just need guidance, and to reap some consequences.
However, if these behaviors do not change, you may need to go to a professional. Here are a few tips you can look for that may mean they are going a bit too far.
- Are they having problems eating, or are they eating too much?
- Are they spending too much time alone in their rooms?
- Did they give up activities and friends that they enjoyed and show no desire to return?
- Are family members or family friends expressing concern?
- Are they watching “dark” or depressing shows or listening to inappropriate music?
- Have any of these behaviors gone on for a few weeks or more?
Before you choose to take your child to a professional, make an appointment for yourself first. Make sure you are on the same page. When you are sure you have found the right professional and you believe the time is right, then make your appointment.
You are in control and you are going to be just fine. It will take more than divorce to break you.
Main photo credit: Ksenia Chernaya