Five ways to support your children’s mental health when you and your partner are divorcing
For Children’s Mental Health Week 2023 (6-12 February), FLiP’s in-house therapist Jo Harrison provides five ways to support your children during a divorce or separation.
- Get help for yourself. Children are incredibly sensitive to when their parents are struggling and will want to care for you. You relieve them of feeling responsibility to do so if you have good support in place. It can also be a place to own up to your angry feelings which can leak into the smallest cracks of your relationship with your co-parent and cause difficulties.
- Get help for your relationship. We know that frequent, unresolved conflict has poor outcomes for children’s mental health. Don’t think that relationship therapy is only for saving your marriage. It’s also to help you move on from past conflicts and work towards a new way of being.
- Help children to feel and name their full range of feelings, even if it feels harder to see them sad or upset. The Yale Mood Meter is a brilliant resource to have on the fridge. Children feel safer to name their feelings if they feel their parents can bear to hear them – another reason why it’s good to get help for yourself so that you can tune into what their feelings stir up for you.
- Have a growth mindset about how things will develop with your co-parent. Finding your way as co-parents is a process that takes time and develops. At the same time your children are developing and will have different needs at different times. It can feel hard to bear not knowing how arrangements will be down the line as a child gets older but what’s more important is a working relationship with your co-parent rather than having everything worked
- Be consistent and reliable Some aspects of your children’s lives will be changing so keep the ones that don’t need to change as consistent and predictable as possible. This will help them feel safe. If you struggle, for example, with punctuality, perhaps this needs addressing.
To have a consultation with one of our relationship therapists email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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