After a separation or divorce, relationships can be difficult. We may find ourselves separating from our children by getting lost in things like work or even lost in new dating experiences. However, this is a crucial time to show to your kiddos that love still exists, relationships are good, and each should still be celebrated!
I feel one of the most innocent and amazing things about kiddos is their ability to love unconditionally and have all the hope in the world. That is something we should be fostering intentionally so we are not hurting their ability to love and hope. So how can we show them love still exists and the benefits of unconditional loving when we ourselves may be heartbroken over the loss of a relationship?
Intentional Time Together
Take some time away from all the distractions of life and spend some one-on-one time with your kiddo(s) regularly. In therapy, I like to task my parents with parent/child dates. I encourage them to let the kids help them cook or take them out to dinner, then sit down together and talk about each other’s day. (Of course, grabbing get ice-cream for dessert, is always helpful too.) I challenge my parents to do this once a week if possible. I know life can be hectic, but this is something that can be so impactful for our kiddos.
Another idea comes from growing up my grandma. Grandma implemented family game nights and it continues in our family today. Every night at dinner we play an easy quick game while we eat. However, we do it with one rule: If we don’t eat our dinner, we don’t get to play. Kids really love it and parents do to as we have less battles trying to get them to eat their food.
No matter what the intentional time looks like together, make sure to set the rule that no one can be on our phones during that time. This way the kiddos are getting our full attention. This can also be a great time to have important talks. Remember to talk at their age appropriate levels around important topics such as co-parenting, communication, and re-affirming they are loved and they will always have support.
Talk About Love
These intentional times can be the perfect opportunity to talk about what love is and how love and relationships look different. Explain that we may no longer be together with their other parent, but we still have love for them. Explain what that looks like now and where they fit in. Re-affirm the separation or divorce is NOT their fault. (Kiddos tend to blame themselves, they want to create control over a situation they can’t control.) Talk to your kiddo(s) about the unconditional love you have for them and what that means for you. Explain what love means to you, and why you feel it is so important. You can also explore what love means to them and why they feel love is important.
Feel the Emotions
It is also so important for kiddo(s) to see their parents with all emotions! This doesn’t mean fake your happiness, it’s okay to feel sad and talk to them about how you feel sad sometimes but remember to do it you feel happy and share with them those experiences as well. What we mimic for our children is what they will think is normal and healthy when they grow up.
Take Care of Yourself
And lastly, if you are struggling, because separation and divorces are pretty hard, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use your friends, family, even a therapist if needed. Your kiddo(s) need to see you taking care of yourself. They also should feel comfortable coming to you to talk about how they’re feeling. Kids tend to have a protective factor and they don’t want to see their parents hurt. Remind your children that it’s okay to share their feelings with you too. Be a secure and open space for them. And always remind them, as constantly as you can. It’s ok to sound like a broken record when you are reminding them you are there for them during this difficult time for your family.
At Dawn, we are here to support your family as a whole. Contact us today if we can support you or your loves ones today.