We often talk about how parents can protect and reinforce their relationships with their children after a separation or divorce. However, parents are not the only people children might struggle to connect with during this time, and mothers and fathers can play an essential role in protecting these relationships, as well.
If you or your ex starts a new relationship with someone with kids, your child could be living or spending a lot of time with them. While you might hope for a situation like The Brady Bunch, stepsiblings don’t always get along – at least, not right away.
Even if your child and their stepsiblings do get along, complications can still arise.
Encourage open communication, and be sure to give your child plenty of reassurance of your love and support throughout these adjustments.
With extended family members
After your divorce, you probably won’t spend much time with your former in-laws, nor is your ex likely to spend time with theirs. However, making an effort to keep your kids in touch with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents can be crucial.
This might mean bringing your child to your former sister-in-law’s house for a cousin’s birthday or calling your former mother-in-law to babysit. And refraining from badmouthing your ex’s family around your child can help them feel better about maintaining these relationships.
With their friends
Depending on your kids’ ages, they may have solid friendships at school and with kids around the neighborhood. If a divorce means your kids must move away or change schools, losing these friendships can devastate them.
Help your kids maintain valuable friendships as much as possible. You could do this by setting up playdates or allowing them to attend functions with former teammates or school groups. At the same time, you can also encourage them to meet new friends when they are ready.
It takes a village
While your top priority is preserving your relationship with your child in the wake of a divorce, remember that you are not the only person in their life.
Many others can also make them feel loved, safe and supported. Helping to foster these positive relationships can go a long way in helping your child through this difficult time.