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How Parents Can Help Themselves

Parents face a number of problems when they divorce. Divorce brings them into new situations for which they may not have solutions. Some problems and how to handle them include...

Being on One's Own

After years of marriage and togetherness, loneliness may set in. Activities that brought enjoyment may no longer be interesting. Parents may feel isolated. It helps to establish new patterns that make one feel OK.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Visit friends and family often, talk to them on the phone, do things with them.
  • Get involved in a support group to talk about the problems and solutions or go to counseling.
  • Expect that there will be times when nothing seems to be going right, but remember that things usually get better.
  • Develop new interests or hobbies-take classes, volunteer, work, join organizations, exercise. Make new friends.

Having Less Time For the Children

During separation and divorce, parents are trying to cope with changed and increased responsibilities and being on their own. This is also a time when the children need more affection and attention. There is too little of the parents to go around.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Ask family and friends for assistance.
  • Be sure that each child has special attention and time. Find and activity that both parent and child can enjoy.
  • Leave or send notes of love and appreciation to the children.
  • Ask friends and neighbors to help with child care or exchange childcare with them.
  • Go for counseling or join a support group.
  • Use lists to organize activities.

Taking Care of the Home

Whether the children live with a parent most of the time or a smaller part of the time, being a single parent is a challenge. The demands of the job and meeting the needs of the children are a burden for one adult. Home chores may seem like the last straw.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Let some things go or change regular routines to adjust to the demands.
  • Divide the chores and let the children be responsible for taking care of possessions and their own rooms.
  • Look into the possibility of using a cleaning service for a half-day to handle some of the chores.
  • Allow the children to contribute to family problem solving.

Handling Money Problems

After the divorce, two separate homes must be maintained. Where previously there may have been two incomes, now there is one. It is hard to make ends meet.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Look for free or inexpensive activities and entertainment.
  • Make a budget and stick to it.
  • Before starting a second family, remember obligations to the first family.
  • Find out about assistance programs-food stamps, Medicaid.

Balancing Personal Time and Children's Needs

At some point, parents may want to begin to socialize and meet new people. It makes life more enjoyable and makes it easier to handle problems. Children may feel left out, confused or angry.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Let children know that they are loved and that parents as well as children need time to do things they enjoy.
  • Do not expose children to casual relationships with members of the opposite sex. If a serious relationship develops, introduce the person slowly into the children's lives.
  • Include the children once in awhile in a social activity that everyone can enjoy.

SMILE Handbook