Divorce is difficult enough without factoring in a global pandemic, but there are many stress-reducing habits you and your children can employ to overcome these challenging times. As the pandemic dissipates and restrictions lessen, it may seem overwhelming to handle the trials and tribulations of day-to-day life on your own. While the heart-breaking and long-lasting effects of divorce should not be understated, these simple habits can help you rise above the stress while maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with your children.
Although divorce inevitably brings a great deal of change, it does not have to erode your relationship with your children. Do not forget that your children need you right now, and helping them process their feelings in a healthy way is paramount when beginning the single-parent journey. While divorce alone has been proven to lead to an increase in stress in children’s lives, a recent study has found that the pandemic has also led to increased stress in adolescents. Encourage your children to engage in the following activities to help them cope with their feelings and reduce stress during this difficult time:
- Outdoor physical activity, anything from a leisurely bike ride to competitive sports with friends, is helpful.
- Relaxing hobbies, e.g., video games or reading
- Socialization with friends, either online or in-person
- Create an open dialogue with you about their feelings. Whether this is in a professional setting via therapy or your own home, encouraging honesty, offering support, and legitimizing your children’s feelings is vital.
- Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, spending time with you. Something as simple as being in the same room as your children are beneficial and can bring a sense of comfort during this strenuous process
Kids Still Need to Be Kids
Divorce may have ended your relationship with your ex, but their relationship with your children is still important. “The underlying consideration when a court makes a custody decision is the best interest of the child,” advises New Jersey family lawyer Allison C. Williams of Williams Law Group, LLC. “The law presumes that it is in the child’s best interest to have frequent and continued contact with both parents.” Reeling in your pain and emotions, especially around your children, is vital in not only maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship with yourself but with your ex as well. Bad-mouthing your ex in front of your children brings the weight of your problems into their lives, creating further stress that may lead to anxiety and depression. Your children need to know that they are loved by both parents, as each parent has different strengths and personalities that are beneficial to raising your children. As tough as it may be to avoid talking negatively about your ex in front of your children, find other outlets to release your anger, such as close friends or mental health professionals. Remember that despite how toxic your relationship with your ex may be, your children come first.
Don’t Forget About You
Divorce is certainly overwhelming, and it may seem easy or convenient to put your own needs aside during this time, especially if you feel it benefits your children’s well-being. However, it is more crucial than ever that you take the time to be well and work on yourself. Although it may seem contradictory, prioritizing your own health benefits your children most of all, as you not only set a good example but being positive and healthy more often allows you to better care for them. Practicing self-care ranges from ensuring you are eating well to taking time to relax to building your support system through trusted friends and family. Experiment with different health and self-care practices to learn what is best for you and your children. Remember, even though divorce is frustrating, confusing, and at times agonizing, you and your children can successfully lead yourselves to that light at the end of the tunnel.