Matthew has been worried about his wife for over two years. She has fallen into a depressive state and has begun to neglect their toddler. His wife has been to therapy but refuses to see a psychiatrist. Matthew is also starting to feel neglected. He loves his wife but is unsure how long he can stay in the marriage. His first concern is what he would tell his toddler if they divorced. How can he make it more child friendly? Will his son be ok? Will his wife be ok? He feels responsible for her well-being as she cannot care for herself. However, he also acknowledges that she refuses to get the help that she needs.

Parents often worry more about their children than they do themselves. Parents need to remember to look after their mental health. Taking care of your moods and stress levels will also help your children with their stress levels. Here are three ways to keep your child securely attached and safe during a divorce.

1. Pay attention to your child’s non-verbal cues. Children sometimes need language to express their feelings fully. For example, during a divorce, a child might blame themselves or try to protect one of the parents. Notice if your child is acting at a younger age, crying more, arguing more, or just not acting like themselves. You can teach your child how to express and regulate their emotions through your own words and actions.

2. Create predictability. Children often don’t have a lot of control over their lives. More than likely, they feel like they have no control over the divorce. Creating predictability with routines and schedules can help them to feel safer. For example, you can place a calendar where they can see what will happen that day, week, and month. If your child is too young to read, you can make a calendar with pictures.

3. Create a secure attachment. Your child will have different attachment needs depending on their developmental age. Nurturing is one of the ways that people of all ages become more securely attached. Nurturing happens on a physical and an emotional level. Your children should feel safe speaking to you. Do your best to protect your children from conflict and responsibility for your emotions. Let your children know that you love them unconditionally. This means that even when they make mistakes and show big feelings, they know they are still loved.

4. Understand where your child is developmental. Is your child still playing with toys? If they are, you can use toys to explain in a child-friendly way. You can also read them stories about divorce. If your child is older, you can tell them in a more straight-up way. Avoid using blaming language. Children and teenagers do not need to know about any adult situations such as affairs.

5. Avoid feelings of Abandonment. If you or your partner are leaving, let your children know it is not their fault. Make sure that they understand this. If you have found someone new, make sure your children know that they are still a priority to you. Your children might think that you are leaving them to have another family. They might think this is because you are abandoning them. Make sure they understand that you are still a family. It will just look different now.

If you would like further information or to join my webinar keeping your kids safe, on March 16th at 5 PM pacific time, please call or text at +1 909 260 5279 or register online.