After a conversation with a friend of mine this week, I was reminded of how fragile a child can become when managing emotions and life while their parents go through a divorce. This was one of the subjects that prompted me to even begin working on H.A.P.P.Y. I found I had come in contact with many other single mom’s concerned about this same issue and quite frankly, we were all muddling through and hoping we were handling things well.
Most children enter and exit an extremely fragile state while trying to navigate their emotions during divorce. So our jobs as mothers becomes even more demanding as we find ourselves the key to helping our children overcome this fragile state and move into a more secure and stable emotional place.
Now that I’ve revisited this subject, I thought I’d send out a bit of mommy wisdom for those of you that are in the same situation I was in a few short years ago.
If you are a single mom reading this and asking yourself, “is my child still in this fragile state and if so, how do I fix it?” I’m not a family counselor so my first recommendation is to see one. I believe in getting a good family counselor that you can see on a regular basis or when you feel everything is becoming too much to bear. A good counselor will guide you through helpful steps specifically for your family needs. Secondly, there are a few basic things that you can do at home that I found effective with my daughter as we were trying to adjust to divorce.
I 100% believe in the power of a positive attitude (Go Zig!) So #1 is as expected:
1. Keep a positive attitude or as a very good friend of mine always says…”keep your head high” (which is her German version of stay positive)
I feel this should be repeated because a healthy attitude and positive view on life is good medicine. I don’t want to oversimplify the situation and I don’t expect anyone to glide like a ballerina around the house singing “Zippidy Doo Da” ; however, it’s like baking a cake, if you use quality ingredients and follow the recipe to the best of your ability, you will have created a beautiful cake that is ready for the frosting. Your child (the cake) will be ready for life (the frosting).
2. HUG ME time…refer to my earlier post on this subject.
3. Turn off TV, phones and computer and have dinner together. Talk, laugh, tell jokes, whatever it takes to focus on them for at least 30 minutes. And don’t talk to much, let them do most of the talking; listen as much as possible. Listening to your children tell stories and showing interest in what is important to them will light up their little brains and their hearts.
4. Go to Church, Synagogue, Mass, Temple, etc. Take them to a place of serenity, respect and quiet even if it’s just a few times a month. This is not only a benefit to them, but to you as well. There’s just something so peaceful, enriching and calming about spending a few moments listening to spiritual instruction and participating in spiritual reverence. It rejuvenates the soul.
5. Don’t tear down your Ex in front of your kids.
Our little guys and gals can only handle so much, so if you fight with your ex or display your anger in front of your children on a regular basis and say things that tear him down, your child will potentially do one of two things; retreat or rebel. Both are equally serious. If your situation is dire, go see a family counselor and vent to them, not your children. I’ve witnessed the damage of a newly single mom who cannot seem to wrap her arms around her situation. My heart hurts for her because I’ve experienced the same feelings and I understand the frustration but at some point we have to pick ourselves up and move forward for the beautiful little people in our lives. It’s ultimately our responsibility to be sure their hearts and their minds are healthy and maturing at a normal pace.
One last recommendation is a book that I’ve found to be extremely insightful and helped me to understand my daughters emotional behaviour and needs. I recommend reading The Five Love Languages of Children and/or the Love Languages of a Teenager by Gary Chapman. I’ve recommended this book before because it gave me important insight and ultimately helped me as I parented my daughter through divorce.
Keep in mind all situations are different, some more serious than others; however, these five simple steps worked for me and my daughter. None of us need to reinvent the wheel, so try them on for size and see how they fit. You may find your home a happier place and your children loving life just a bit more.