By Brenda L. Storey, Esq.
Crucial to a child’s ability to successfully navigate the divorce of his parents is an opportunity to express what he is feeling. As the parent, it is key to encourage the child to share his thoughts and feelings. Although at the right point, reassurance should be provided, actually listening to the child and allowing him to express himself is so beneficial. This is not a one-time need, either. The child will need it throughout the divorce process, and even afterwards. When a child is observed as being upset, that is an obvious time to reach out and ask him to open up. But, it is also helpful to randomly check in, and not wait for the child’s emotions to trigger the focus on sharing feelings.
This communication creates a healthy outlet for the child, and teaches them great coping skills for the rest of their life. There is also an added benefit—the child and parent become even closer. The child knows the parent cares and will listen. The talk is very personal, and can be raw. The child feels exposed, but also supported and heard. That can really bring two people together!
There is a life-long benefit to teaching these communication skills. In addition to helping your child have better emotional intelligence and health, they learn key relationship skills. It is a win/win, as you help them in the present, for the future, and strengthen your tie with them as well.