A: Divorce is hard on
parents, but it can be even harder on a child. And age doesn't seem
to matter -- teens can be just as devastated as younger children.
After a divorce, a child may become sad and withdrawn. Schoolwork
often suffers. Grades and conduct may worsen. Although it won't be
easy, you can help your daughter through this significant
change in her life. Here are some things you should do:
Be sure your
daughter knows that she is still loved by both parents. Talk
with your husband and set some ground rules. Agree that if you
have problems, you'll discuss them with each other -- but that
you will continue to present a united front to your child.
Set up a
conference with your daughter's teachers as soon as
possible. Be as honest as you can about what's going on at home.
Tell her you want to work together to solve any problems. Be
sure to let the school office know, too. If your address or
phone number will change, the school needs to have that
information so they can contact you in an emergency.
Let the school
office know which of you has legal custody of your daughter,
so grade cards and other school records can be handled properly.
If you will have primary custody, work out a system so that both
parents can continue to be informed of her progress.
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Your family life will change dramatically. During all this
upheaval, your daughter needs some stability. It's important to
keep as many routines as you can, such as keeping a regular
bedtime. These familiar things will help her adjust.
Set a new
family tradition. Learn a new activity together. Focus on
the positive aspects of change.
Talk with your
daughter every day. As simple as that seems, studies show it
is very important. Talking -- and listening -- sets the stage
for good communication. Routine talking can give you the
opportunity to help your daughter deal with problems and
Get help if you
need it. Some children may not want to talk with their
parents about their feelings. Perhaps a school counselor or a
trusted teacher could work with your daughter. If she becomes
very depressed or disturbed, seek professional help immediately.
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 2006, The Parent Institute
"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful
Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.