How to Help Children Cope With an Absent Father
A divorce or separation can be a painful and stressful time for the children involved, especially if a parent is absent. While you are likely hurting as well, it is important to help your child cope with the difficult transition. If you are unsure about what to say or do to help to cope with an absent father, start by maintaining your child’s routine and modeling calmness to help him feel more secure. The exact coping mechanism for your children depends on his age and personality.
Encourage your child to talk about her feelings. She may readily open up, cry and yell about her absent father or she may be more reserved. Make yourself available any time she needs to talk.
Allow your child to be honest when speaking with you. He might have some anger and blame toward you as well. For instance, he might be concerned you contributed to his father leaving. If he is unable to share his feelings, he may have a more difficult time working through it, according to Helpguide.org.
Resist trying to fix things and acknowledge your child’s feelings. You won’t like to see your her sadness but it is more important that you listen and understand her feelings.
Avoid blaming the father. This may be difficult to do if he is not around, but try to explain that his dad can’t be a part of his life, without assigning blame or judgment.
Be honest with your child. All of the changes of divorce and separation can be scary 1. Being upfront with her about what to expect can help restore confidence.
Reassure your child. He may fear that you will leave as well. Remind him that you won’t leave him and that you love him.
Seek help when necessary. Some children may need counseling to help them cope with the changes. Mental health centers, community centers and churches offer groups for children of divorce. It may help your child to connect with others that are going through the same situation.
Speak to a counselor or psychologist, or your child’s health care practitioner for guidance if your child is having a difficult time coping.
- Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images