Author: LaGeris Underwood Bell
Published: Feb 7 2014
Life throws many curve balls at us, usually when we least expect it. When you find yourself facing one of life’s many challenges, like divorce, death, or natural disaster, it is important to maintain some semblance of peace and continuity if possible, particularly for any children involved. As adults, we may realize that these situations are temporary and our lives will soon return to some normalcy, but kids tend to live more in the moment.
It may be difficult for them to see beyond the current trauma they are experiencing. Below are some ideas on how to remain calm and stable during times of family crisis and change.
If you are going through a divorce and schedules are changing as you attempt to determine a new parenting schedule, try to remain consistent with things like bedtimes, mealtime routines, and school and extracurricular activities. Even if family life is turned a bit upside down, having stability and structure in other aspects of their lives will help children cope with what will most likely be major life changes. Children thrive in a structured, dependable environment. It helps them feel secure to know what is coming next.
When one parent moves out of the home, children have to adjust to living without both parents at the same time. If your children are spending some time with you at the family home, and other days and nights with their other parent at a new house or apartment, try to keep their favorite toys, games and stuffed animals accessible at both households. This is especially helpful for younger children who may be afraid of sleeping in a different environment. Work together with your soon-to-be ex-spouse to make sure the octoplush, Teddy bear, special blanket, and pillow are transferred with your kids. Again, this will help them adjust to the new arrangements and give them security in a strange environment.
Remember, this situation is new to everyone. Even if you and your partner have been discussing divorce, separation, or the inevitable death of a loved one suffering from a terminal illness for the past several months, it may be brand new information to children hearing about it. Give them time to adjust. Be extra patient, and try not to get angry about little things.
During a family crisis, children tend to be more sensitive and fragile and perhaps even prone to emotional outbursts and other types of reactionary behavior. It is important for the adults in their lives to be patient, loving, understanding, and calm so the children can make it through the crisis and remain as emotionally stable as possible. This may be quite a challenge for you to manage, since undoubtedly you are experiencing this crisis yourself and all the pain that comes with it.
Desperate times call for desperate measures – or sometimes that’s how we feel. Before you get to that point of desperation and hopelessness, consult a professional therapist or mediator or another expert in the area in which you need help. Getting help for yourself will ultimately help you through the challenging time, and it will help you to be a strong parent for your children who are also struggling.
On the other hand, if you are managing things and feeling emotionally stable, but notice one of your children becoming withdrawn or depressed, or any other behavior that is not his or her normal, you may want to speak to a child psychologist or therapist who can specifically help your son or daughter.
Remember, this situation is temporary, and life will soon resume to a new normalcy with different circumstances. You can live through it and come out even stronger and more positive on the other side. Finding inner peace will help each member of your family find peace as well.
Writer LaGeris Underwood Bell offers this article to families in crisis who need some ideas about how to cope. She especially hopes this helps parents shepherd their little ones through their current trial by using a consistent schedule or available resources as an emotional lifeline.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shankbone/3319313469/
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