Just as a good friend of mine and I were ending dinner the other day, his phone rang. I watched as he stared at his iPhone screen in disbelief, ignored the call and then placed the phone in his jacket pocket. He was immediately visibly angry, his hands shaking as he signed his receipt. As we walked out of the restaurant I asked him what was on his mind, not anticipating the eruption of emotion that followed.
Never in a thousand years would I have expected to see this 6’ 3” man shed a single tear, nevertheless sob, as he described how the phone call he had ignored was from one of his parents, whom he had not spoken to in six years. Although it had been more than a decade after his parents’ final divorce decree, he was still emotionally distressed by the consequences of their divorce.
After talking at length about his parents’ divorce and how it made him feel, I asked him what he wished his parents had done differently to help him deal with their separation.
His advice? —Show and tell your child you care about them, ask your child how he/she is doing, and be strong.
1) Show and tell your child you care about them.
There is a difference between telling your child you care and showing them. It is important to do both. Tell your child you care whenever you get the chance by letting them know how much you love them, by being honest with them and by explaining to them what is going on. Show your child you care by making an effort to spend time with them throughout the divorce process. It is important to demonstrate your love for your child through both your words and your actions so that you can maintain, or even strengthen, your bond with your child. According to my friend, the most painful part about his parents’ divorce was losing this bond with one of his parents.
2) Ask your child how he/she is doing.
Let your child know that their opinion is important and that their feelings about the divorce matter. Answer your child’s questions as they arise. Most importantly, listen to what your child is saying. Acknowledge their opinions, suggestions and fears, and then modify your actions to improve the situation. As stated by my friend, it is very frustrating to feel that you, as the child, have no say in what happens to your family, despite being a part of it. By asking for your child’s opinions and suggestions, you both can face the changes occurring together.
3) Be strong.
Most importantly, it is important to remain a good role model for your children. By being strong, calm and collected, you will help alleviate your child’s fears and worries.
Our dedicated Virginia attorneys and legal staff here at Smith Strong, PLC. will help you be strong through this trying time in your life. Call (804) 325-1245 to schedule a comprehensive SMART START consultation with one of our lead Virginia attorneys. Let us guide you through the divorce process so that you, and your family, can remain strong.