Healing After a Divorce with Children
Key Points
  • Commit to your child’s well-being and mental health. If you see or notice changes in behavior, seek help. Divorce can be painful in different ways for the child.
  • Children have an emotional response to divorce, yes, the child can bounce back, but do not think for one moment that divorce is easy on the child, no matter what age the child is at the time of divorce.
  • Divorce is a loss, it is important to understand that healing needs to take place during and after a divorce for not only former spouses but for children as well. Healing will take time and it is different for each person.

Each of you as parents will need to heal, as will your children. It takes different periods of time for each of you. Humans heal from horrible situations over time. Healing takes time, energy and commitment to yourself and to your children. Making a decision to start a new beginning comes immediately for some. For others, it happens only after you have had time to resolve your emotional and psychological pain. It is important to get support if you do not understand how emotional and psychological pain affects you. It is the human understanding that you receive from the person who is giving it that helps the healing. It takes the presence of another human to experience the caring, empathy, insight and confidence to deal with your feelings. Too often, it isn’t until you are in an emotionally painful situation that you notice your feelings. Painful feelings are very intense and often shaming. Feelings related to emotional and psychological pain hurt. Internal pain can not be seen, only felt. Feelings affect your mood, behavior, attitude, physical health, motivation and confidence. Finding a safe place and safe people with whom to express your pain is imperative for heating and letting go - We often are conditioned not to let go. Letting go means letting go of the anger, sadness, resentment, disappointment, fears, guilt and shame that come with ending a marriage, and then finding the strength and courage to go on with your life. When you find that strength you know you are healing.

Roles change in divorce and it takes time to adjust to these "titles." The "visiting parent" has to adjust to not being with the children for longer periods of time than the " custodial parent." However, the custodial parent is adjusting to longer periods of caretaking alone. Both roles are overwhelming at times, and you will need support. Each of you has to adjust to your child being away from you on holidays, birthdays, celebrations, and weekends. You will have to replace that time with other meaningful, worthwhile commitments and activities. The loss of not having your children is otherwise too difficult. Some of you may struggle with the shame of letting go and accepting this change, thinking it is not right to enjoy your life if your children aren’t with you. However, it is imperative that both parents commit to new activities and stay committed to the children.

Useful Online Tools

Suggested Reading
Creating a Successful Parenting Plan Creating a Successful Parenting Plan
This extraordinary book and computer disk offers separating or divorcing parents a sure-fire way to create a workable, practical parenting plan/agreement that is in the best interest of their children.

Author: Jayne A. Major, Ph.D.

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