Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally turbulent experience for everyone involved, especially so for children, as they navigate feelings of confusion, sadness, and uncertainty about the future. As a parent, supporting your child through this transition is paramount to helping them cope and heal. In this article, we will explore effective strategies for assisting your child in coping with divorce and fostering their emotional well-being.

Open Communication

  1. Encourage Expression: Create a safe and open environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings about the divorce. Listen attentively without judgment and validate their emotions.
  2. Be Honest and Age-Appropriate: Provide honest and age-appropriate explanations about the divorce, avoiding blame or negativity towards the other parent. Assure your child that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents still love them.
  3. Maintain Consistency: Keep communication lines open and consistent, providing updates about changes in living arrangements, schedules, and any other pertinent information related to the divorce.

Emotional Support

  1. Offer Reassurance: Reassure your child of your unconditional love and support, emphasizing that both parents will continue to be involved in their lives despite the divorce. 
  2. Model Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Serve as a role model by demonstrating healthy coping mechanisms, such as practicing self-care, seeking support from friends or family, and engaging in activities that promote emotional well-being.
  3. Validate Feelings: Validate your child’s feelings and acknowledge the validity of their emotions, even if they differ from your own. Let them know that it’s normal to feel sad, angry, or confused during this time.

Stability and Routine

  1. Maintain Consistent Routines: Establish and maintain consistent routines as much as possible, including mealtimes, bedtimes, and other daily activities. Predictability can provide a sense of stability and security for your child amidst the changes brought about by the divorce.
  2. Create a Supportive Environment: Foster a supportive environment by surrounding your child with familiar belongings, comforting rituals, and positive social connections with friends and family members.
  3. Encourage Healthy Outlets: Encourage your child to engage in activities that promote emotional expression and stress relief, such as art, music, sports, or journaling.

Co-Parenting and Collaboration

  1. Work Together with Your Ex-Spouse: There is no one more important to the child than their parents. A divorce can affect the child tremendously, particularly when the divorce happens when the child is still young. Therefore, it is important to collaborate with your ex-spouse to establish consistent parenting strategies and routines, minimize conflict and disagreement, and prioritize the best interests of your child.
  2. Maintain a Unified Front: In most cases, a divorce would mean that the parents would no longer be residing with one another. This can be confusing and especially difficult for the child to process. Present a united front when addressing issues related to the divorce with your child, emphasizing that both parents are working together to support them through this transition.
  3. Seek Professional Support if Needed: If you’re struggling to navigate co-parenting or addressing your child’s emotional needs, consider seeking guidance from a family therapist or counsellor who specializes in divorce and child psychology.

The Family Justice Courts offer Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to help gain insights and strategies to explore solutions that are in the best interest of the children. Children of the parties may also be invited to attend the counselling sessions, where appropriate, to allow CFS to understand the needs of the children and to discuss support plans with the parents.  

The Law

In Singapore, the law recognises that divorces can be messy and potentially affect the child of the marriage negatively. As such, there are several ways that the law and/or the relevant stakeholders help mitigate the adverse impact of the parents’ divorce on the child. Below are some examples: 

  1. Parenting Programme: In Singapore, section 94A of the Women’s Charter 1961 (the “Women’s Charter”) provides that the parents of at least one child under 21 years old must complete a parenting programme before divorce proceedings may be initiated. The Parenting Programme helps parties make informed decisions that ensure the welfare of the child is being prioritised.
  2. Programme for Children: Section 132A of the Women’s Charter allows the courts to advise one or both parties to ensure that the child completes a programme for children that helps them process and deal with the consequences of the divorce of their parents. 
  3. Family Dispute Resolution:  Parties with at least one child below 21 years old are required to attend counselling and mediation at the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Division, this is also known as the FDR process

Parties and their family lawyers will meet with a mediator for mediation and a court family specialist from CAPS for counselling and explore the possibility of resolving disagreements or disputes arising from the issues relating to the divorce, child’s living and care arrangements, maintenance and division of the matrimonial property and assets. 

  • Famil1y Lawyer: A family lawyer in Singapore would be able to offer advice and guidance regarding the decisions, options and plans that would best serve the child’s interests and welfare. Further, a family lawyer is able to help ensure that the child’s welfare is being protected by advocating for the appropriate custody, care and control arrangement and access orders. 

Conclusion

Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally fraught experience for children, but with the right support and guidance from parents, they can navigate this transition with resilience and strength. By fostering open communication, providing emotional support, maintaining stability and routine, and collaborating effectively with your ex-spouse, you can help your child cope with divorce and navigate the journey towards healing and adjustment. Additionally, a family lawyer would be useful in protecting the child’s interests and needs from a practical aspect.

Remember to prioritize your child’s emotional well-being and seek professional support if needed to ensure they receive the care and support they need during this challenging time.

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