Allow Your Children to “Grieve” After Divorce
Divorce is hard on everyone involved. When children are involved, we need to give them the time and space to grieve the loss of the biological parent that leaves the home. To “grieve” may sound harsh, but it is exactly what the children do. They have lost someone very special to them, even though they may still see that parent, it may not be everyday like before, especially at bedtime. During this grieving process, it is important to talk to you children every day about their feelings and explain everything on their level of understanding.
Your children deserve your attention and your time while working through the change in their lives caused by divorce, separation or death. Do not rush into another relationship and expect your child to be accepting of a new person. Depending on the age of the child, it can take as long as two years for a child to accept a new person in their biological parent’s life.
If you are already dating someone, pay special attention to your children’s reactions to your new love. Children often have their own way of sizing up a relationship, and may see something you do not but in fact, should. If you are sure you have met the right person, give your children time to get to know him on their own terms. Give them space and do not insist on doing anything uncomfortable for them, such as hugging or giving goodbye or goodnight kisses, until ready.
You also want to avoid including this new person in too many of your family days at first. You are beginning to develop a relationship which needs a baseline of a strong bond between you and your new partner. If your time is spent focused on becoming a family unit you are not going to be able to keep things in balance. You may be forced to skip a few important stages of your relationship on the course toward greater involvement and commitment. You are also trying to build a whole new family configuration as a single person with your kids.
You do not need to rush anything. You need to allow everyone to get used to each other and for you to decide whether you want to create a new family. If you have reservations you should listen to your intuition and wait until either the feelings are resolved or you understand clearly the relationship is not right for you. This is your chance at a new and happy life. If important aspects are missing, wait for another situation to come along. Do not settle because you are lonely or think you will never have the right opportunity. Do not try and force feelings not there yet.
If the kids are expressing distress, depression, resistance or rebellion, listen! Children need to have their feelings acknowledged. If kids see you are listening to their feelings, they feel able to listen to yours.
Remember to constantly reassure your children you still love them and no new relationship will change this love. Tell them you want to form a family and ask for their input. The more a part of things the less frightened children will feel. You may be surprised. If you have found the right person for you, your children may be as happy about things as you are.
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