Parents know that as children get older and their circle of friends grows, there is often a steady stream of kids in and out of the house. Some of these children grow up to young adults right in front of the parents’ eyes, and some only make an appearance or two before the friendship peters out or never really gets off the ground to begin with. A few select children become like honorary members of the family, spending hours at a time, eating meals and generally becoming as close to the children of the home as siblings, and look to the parents as another set of parental figures. Children often look to the friends they spend the bulk of their time with, and adults that they respect and trust during times of crisis, such as if their parents decide to get a divorce. This article will offer some suggestions on how you can help your child’s friend whose parents are divorcing, through this difficult and confusing time.
Offer Your Home As A Safe Haven. While you may currently have a set schedule and allowable times for your children’s friends to socialize in your home, this one particular friend may truly need a bit of leniency of those rules right about now. There may be a large amount of fighting between child’s parents, one or both of the parents may be showing signs of depression, or the changes going on in the home may just be very unsettling to the child. Allowing that child some extra time in your home, whether it be several times a week after school and for dinner, or to spend the night on the weekends, may be very beneficial during this time. It allows the child to take a break from the goings on at home, and also allows the parents of the child some privacy to take care of what they need to, without upsetting the child any more than necessary.
Befriend The Child’s Parent. Offer the child’s parent a sympathetic ear, and make it known that you are available to look after the child when the need arises. Offering yourself as a support person to the child’s parent, and helping out with rides to sports practice, assisting with homework or just having the child over for dinner several times a week can help to relieve a bit of the burden of an impending divorce. This ultimately helps your child’s friend, as it gives his or her parents a little bit of relief from an overwhelming schedule and a chance to regroup now and then during this difficult time. This will surely help the parent to be more patient and focused on helping the child deal with his or her parent’s divorce.
Refrain From Making Disparaging Remarks About The Child’s Mother Or Father. No matter what the circumstances of the divorce, refrain from criticizing or making disparaging remarks about the couple in front of the child. Your child’s friend will need to process the divorce in his or her own way, and hopefully, will remain close to both parents. Save your opinion and adult conversation about the couple for your spouse, and your spouse only. Offer only compassion and encouraging remarks to the child, in order to help them through the situation as emotionally unscathed as possible.
Be An Example Of A Healthy And Loving Family. Some, but not all, children who have gone through their parents’ divorce are led to believe that all marriages eventually end unhappily, and arguing and constant criticism of each other is part of being a family. Show this child that there are certainly marriages that are healthy, happy and weather storms together without splitting up. Make your home an example of a positive and supportive family environment that will give this child a clearer perspective on relationships and positive family dynamics.