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Divorce is a huge loss for children.
Life as they know it has forever changed.
It is at the same time – a new beginning – a healing of past pain and a stronger, more positive future.
Children need to know everything is going to be okay.
They need to have their home restored to a joyful place again.
They are relieved to be in a more peaceful environment yet many changes continue to happen both inside and outside of their home.
They are watching their mom and dad adjust to single parenthood.
They may now have more responsibility to help around the house.
And they are not necessarily surrounded by the same family and friends due to the divorce.
Just as the children should have always been the number one priority in the marriage so should they be in friendship.
Sadly, a lot of focus in divorce is placed on ‘couplehood.’
Rather than remembering these children need to continue to be surrounded by those they considered close enough to be family. And friends should simply include both parents if they are that caught up in feeling as if they should choose sides in the divorce – don’t. Just err on the side of caution and try to do things with both spouses and the children separately.
Invite the children and mom one time and the next the children and dad.
Whatever it takes to make the children be the absolute number one priority and to ensure they suffer even fewer losses than the relationships they have already had to sacrifice.
And the truth is, it doesn’t take long for the children to show signs of a healthy divorce where both parents are mature and behaving well enough OR to gravitate towards the parent which is most stable in their lives.
Therefore, watch the children and their behavior and as a friend, you will understand exactly what they need from you.
The best advice though is to simply get involved. Do not stand back if you were once a close friend and say you do not want to get involved, or take sides, or get in the middle of it.
That is a message being sent to the adults in the relationship.
It is the wrong thing to do to the children who still want as many as those that love them to remain in their daily lives.
And children are smart. While some misguided adults try to force their opinion of the situation by their actions or by retreating, the children are fully aware of what truly transpired between their parents. All the more reason to focus on the children rather than evaluating what you believe a mother or father should or should not be doing in divorce.
Make home happy again!
10 Ways to Help Your Friend’s Children Through Divorce:
1. Bring a Meal AND Stay:
Love has left the house.
It needs to be brought back in.
Stop by and bring lunch or dinner and sit and eat with them. Do not just drop it off. This action not only focuses on love and friendship but it detracts from the feeling their house has become empty with the loss of one parent.
2. Drop Off Inspiration:
Think of things which make a house joyful.
Stop by periodically and drop off flowers, candy, and other feel good things which brighten the inside and outside of a home.
3. Offer Rides:
Divorce can cause time as well as financial constraints.
Don’t wait to be asked to drive because the children are well aware of the fact they have new limitations. Offer rides without hesitation and with generosity so the kids do not feel as if they now are a burden to other people.
Often children of divorce have one parent who may have let them down. Who may not be as present in their lives as they once were.
Show up and mentor these children just by taking an increased interest in them. And take note of what parent might seem to be absent. If it’s the father perhaps a male friend could make a significant difference by stepping in to be a positive role model and if it’s the mother then vice versa.
For children, it is about love and not roles.
A loving person can make a tremendous impact and fill a huge void in the life of a child of divorce.
5. Organize Fun:
Divorcing parents are strained and drained.
They may not be initiating or organizing the type of family/friend events which they used to.
Children need healthy releases and distractions in divorce.
Check with their mother or father to get the okay to plan something fun and athletic at their house. Organize a soccer, football or baseball game. Or just a good old-fashioned kickball fest.
Again, the focus (if the single parent gives the okay) is to have these gatherings at their own home so they equate home with a place of joy once again.
6. Support Their Parents:
Children of divorce are suddenly thrust into a position of worry.
They now fret about their single parent(s).
Anything you can do to show consistent support of your friend lifts the burden from the children.
So make those phone calls not just texts, stop by with a bottle of wine, ask your friend to coffee or lunch, stop by for no reason, and more. You can ask your friend what they need or just try and be thoughtful.
The more you show up in your friend’s life – the more you are showing up in the children’s life.
7. Do Not Add to the Confusion:
It’s difficult. Everyone has strong opinions about divorce. This person should do this and that. They shouldn’t do this and that. They should show up with their ex-spouse. They should not talk about them. And on and on.
Look, no one is happy with their behavior in divorce so judging them just compounds it.
Don’t force your own opinions on what you think your friend should or shouldn’t do. It adds to the stress and the stress in the house can transfer to the children.
It’s hard to comprehend but divorce is far more catastrophic than the person who has not experienced it understands so be supportive, not opinionated.
8. Be Vocal:
Tell the children you are thinking of them.
How much you love them.
That you will always be there for them.
Ask the children if there’s anything they need.
Reinforce that you are one of the people who divorce will not be taking out of their world.
9. Communicate In Other Ways Consistently:
A lot of children who are in pain do not feel like talking but they do want to know you are listening…to their pain that is.
It doesn’t take a lot of words to be a solid support system to a child.
You can text them an emoji. A heart, a smiley face or anything which will brighten their day and let them know you are consistently there in the background and thinking of them. Even if they are not seeing you all the time. It doesn’t need to be daily or weekly but a few times a month at least.
They will remember you were always there for them.
10. Household Maintenance:
Even if it’s as unpleasant as yard work or cleaning the house it needs to be done and a single parent isn’t always immediately equipped to deal with everything as they rebuild their lives.
Especially household maintenance such as fixing a pipe, or drywall or things such as that.
You could get a few friends to help or once a month ask if there are any pressing issues you or your spouse will be happy to fix.
What is difficult for one person is often easy for another.
All the more reason, to help in the ways which come most easily to you.
The long and short of it is divorce makes some friends circle the camp and others retreat.
All ten of these things focus on one very simple principle…
Show up in the life of the divorcing children you know.
Don’t get annoyed with your friend because you are worried about them or not happy with how they are handling things to the point where the children pay the price.
That’s exactly what the children saw modeled in their parent’s relationship.
Two adults who couldn’t resolve things enough to put them front and center.
Children are watching. They are always watching. They are looking for the adults to show them love and stability.
Find as many ways as possible to show up in your friend’s life.
Throw away the immature and unhealthy judgments and opinionated sides of the divorce.
Follow the example of the parent(s) who sought the divorce to take their children out of a position of conflict in order to place them in a joyful home again.
(Photo courtesy of Pexels)
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