Although many married couples with children and teens try to divorce amicably to spare their kids distress and emotional fallout, research shows that sometimes divorce does impact a child's school or sports performance. It is essential for parents to monitor children's behavior and progress at home and in academic or social contexts to be aware of any problems that may develop. Here are some helpful steps parents can take to help their children and teens adjust following a divorce.
Develop a Support Network
Adolescents and youth who are struggling more than seems normal with their emotions stemming from a change in family structure may need extra support. Some may benefit from parental encouragement to adopt a hobby, or join a sports team or club. They might appreciate the option of family counseling where they can objectively share their concerns and explore their feelings. Family counseling could happen in the home with your children and you, or you could sign up for family therapy sessions with a trained professional. Encouraging a child to continue sharing activities with trusted friends can be helpful. Many times when one pillar of support, like family, begins to shake or crack, children will reach out to other areas for support like friends or their hobbies. This can be a good thing they may need to keep them going through a hard time, but it can cause a rift in your relationship, so making sure you try to stay an active part of their life is essential. Kids and teens need to know that much of their life will remain the same, and that other people care about them.
Track Your Child's Grades
Many schools now provide interim grades rather than only a quarterly report. Midway through each school quarter, or term, the teacher, student, and parents will see from the student's grades how well he or she is doing. In some of the higher grades, like in middle school or high school there are ways to go online at any time to see your student’s grades. Families are an important part of a student's educational experience, and parents in particular play a critical role as their personal learning coach, keeping the student on track and communicating with teachers. You should talk to them about their grades in an open and non-judgmental way. As said before, grades can start to dip if a student is having personal trials at home. Sit down with your student, talking about their grades, help them calculate their GPA and be consistent in efforts to raise it. Adjustments to a homework routine or an enhanced study process can be implemented to help students improve their grades before the end of that term. Early intervention catches problems at a stage when the student can take greater control or change learning habits to do better at school.
Get Involved in Your Child's Social Activities
Children and teens who play sports or join clubs often appreciate it when parents participate as warranted. For example, parents who attend recitals, attend competitive sports events, or volunteer as a teacher's assistant in your son or daughter's school demonstrate love and caring in visible ways. Finding the right balance is important, since many children appreciate you incorporating yourself, but some may not. Adjusting yourself to the needs of your child is more important than feeling good about yourself for checking off a list or doing something you feel you should do. Despite a divorce, the child's security stemming from one or both parents is reinforced when parents spend time at social activities.
Maintain Amicable Interactions with the Other Parent
After the divorce, the family dynamic will change. But it does not have to be bitter or self-serving. Former spouses who are congenial and mutually respectful, at least in front of the kids, can make their children feel less stressed and more secure. Speaking frankly and openly with teens or older children could help them be more relaxed about the situation because you are granting them a higher level of trust. They will take that confidential or personal information seriously and will respect you more for you respecting them. Relaxed tensions will enable young students to focus on schoolwork and social activities with friends in positive ways.
Sometimes divorce seems inevitable. But its effects on children can be mitigated. If you need help with counseling or guidance, see how we can help!