Coping with divorce
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Syndicated column from The Parent
[OCT. 12, 2005]
Q: We are having a difficult time this summer.
My husband and I are going through an unpleasant divorce. This is a
bad situation in itself, but my biggest concern is the effect it is
having on our son. He will be living with me, and I worry about the
upcoming school year and how this will affect his performance.
A: You have a valid concern. After a divorce, children can become
sad and withdrawn. Their schoolwork often suffers. They sometimes
daydream instead of studying. Their grades and conduct can worsen.
There are ways you can help your son cope with this significant
change in his life. For example:
Set routines. Your family
life has changed dramatically, and your son needs some
stability. If possible, have a set time for dinner, homework and
bedtime. If you are working, you have an especially challenging
situation. Expect your son to help out with chores. Setting and
sticking to routines will take hard work, but this is essential
in helping your son cope.
Help your son see that change
can be positive. Start a new family tradition. Learn a new
activity together. Focus on the positive aspects of change. Your
child will learn that change can mean growth.
Talk with your son every day.
As simple and obvious as that seems, studies show that good
communication -- routine talking, and listening -- can give you
the opportunity to help your son deal with problems and
Find out what is happening at
school each day. Take a look at homework papers. Read and
return all papers sent home from the school.
Work with your son's school.
Be sure to let the school know when your marital status
changes. State who has legal custody. Let them know of any
changes in address, phone number or job. Then they will know
where to reach you. Usually, schools will be happy to work with
both parents. Give the school addresses and phone numbers for
both parents. And when school starts, be sure your son's teacher
understands the family situation.
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Find out what resources are
available to you through your school system and your
community, especially if you will be solely responsible for your
child. You may find a special support group for single parents
where you can meet others in your same situation.
Have a plan for your child on
days when either you or your child is ill. Your school
system may have a list of child-care providers who could help
you in such a situation.
Try to keep his father
involved as much as possible. A child who continues to see
both parents adjusts more easily. You may be angry or hurt by
your divorce, but you have to be the grown-up in this situation.
Remember, if you need help, ask for it! You can start with your
son's school. If they don't have the resources you need, they can
point you in the right direction.
For more information about helping
children learn or to submit your own question, go to
http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive
a prompt answer by e-mail.
Copyright © 2005, The Parent
"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful
Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.