One valuable lesson I have learned is that while we can control our attitude and how much effort we put in, we can’t control someone else’s. When children don’t want to talk, it is impossible to have a productive conversation. We should also factor in that kids are constantly learning more about themselves and the world they live in, so patience is the key. As a parent, you can do a couple things to strengthen the relationship between you and your child during a divorce or absence of another parent.
First, it is very important to monitor how you speak about the other parent. Try to keep a neutral stance when talking about the other parent when children are around. Degrading another parent can be seen as manipulation and it can drive a wedge between you and your child. Tearing down the other parent could lead to your child being more rebellious towards you, or both parents. If your child asks you questions about the divorce, try to keep an open and honest dialogue. You cannot control what the other parent says, but keep your answers simple and truthful. Opposing stories will develop a distrust in the child and could lead to rebellion on the part of your child.
Second, take time to invest in what your child loves. Is it sports, music, technology, or a specific subject in school? You do not need to be an expert. In fact, let your child teach you. Show interest and do your best to learn about something new. This is also a great way to monitor what your child is learning in school or on the internet. Embrace what they embrace.
Finally, find a therapist for your child and let them have an opinion on who you choose. Not every therapist will be a good fit for your child. The therapeutic relationship takes time to build but can have many benefits for your child’s healing process. You may be tempted to have regular communication with your child’s therapist, but I have found your child will be more likely to build a trusting relationship with their therapist if you, the parent, are able to step back, give it space, and have minimal involvement. The therapist is required, by law, to let you know if your child is a danger to themselves or someone else. Try to trust the process and let the therapist initiate any necessary communication.