Children Coping With Divorce
Nurturing helps kids feel secure and keeps them out of trouble.
How Can You Help Children Cope? continued...
Through therapy, children can get help dealing with their emotions, learning what they can control. They can learn how to better deal with stress through relaxation and positive thinking. Also, learning communication skills is important -- so they can speak with their parents about the experiences and feelings they're having, Sandler tells WebMD.
Despite the stresses, parents must also keep values in perspective -- and make sure the kids are top priority.
"After divorce, parents are very stressed. It's a very difficult time for them. They're very busy just trying to make ends meet, they're emotionally upset," Sandler tells WebMD.
"Cooperation between parents can easily break down," he says. "Parents do things out of guilt or to show they're better than the other. All this conflict and animosity undermines their relationship with their kids. That's something kids should have no part in. It's not anything they can do about, and it only makes the kid feel worse and have more problems."
"There's something special about the holidays -- they're symbolic for us," says Sandler. "They're all about family."
It's your choice: "You can be angry and mourn the family that was, or you can establish new rituals," he tells WebMD. "I'm a strong believer in rituals. I think it's one of the things a family can do. It shows respect for each other's time, knowing that both mom and dad are important to the child. It doesn't matter who gets the kids for Christmas or Thanksgiving -- both have rituals, but both give the same message -- that there are a lot of people that care about the child and want to share it."
"Children need to have a sense that they have both a mother and father. They need to connect with the other parent -- call their father in New York or see their mother and her family at the house. They should feel a sense that they haven't lost one parent," says Goldenberg.
If parents don't fall apart, children won't fall apart either, she says. "Holidays are extremely hard for adults. They have to look at how their family is fractured. A 'stiff upper lip' won't help much. It's better to plan something positive. Talk to your child. Maybe this isn't what you had before, but start a new tradition. Go to someone's house, be part of their tradition. Or volunteer to help somewhere."