Helping Kids Make Good Childhood Memories
As a divorced parent, you may be concerned about the memories that your child will take away from their childhood. It's good for children to experience a wide range of emotions, and from those experiences, they'll take away all sorts of memories. However, it is valid to have concerns about how an experience like divorce will have on your child's memories later on. The truth is that it's not hard to help your child make good memories but to do so, you should be mindful not to let the bad times override the good. Here are a few basic ways to help your kids make good childhood memories.
Be Mindful About Conflict
The heat of arguments and conflicts are things that can stick with a person, even if they aren't directly involved in it. For children, experiencing their parents' divorce conflict can create unpleasant childhood memories. While many children may witness some minor disagreements between their parents during childhood, experiencing intense conflict between one's parents can be devastating for a child. Do your best to shield your kids from any conflict had between you and their other parent. Be careful about having heated phone conversations or text message exchanges in front of your children, as their ears and eyes can quickly sense something is not right. Using a communication tool built to help co-parents share information and avoid conflict, you will be better able to shield your children from these experiences.
Spend Quality Time Together
Children want to have a loving relationship with each of their parents, and as adults, they'll want to look back and remember the good times they spent with each of their parents. There are plenty of ways to create good memories with your children, even if they are only with you part of the time. Having dinner together, reading books before bedtime, playing together, and working on crafts as a family can be an easy way to make good memories. When you're spending time with your children, concentrate on what you're doing together. Focus your attention on them so that later they won't have memories of you always being distracted when you were together. When you can't be together, reaching out to them by phone or an online message will give you a chance to stay connected even at a distance.
Make Fun Surprises, Avoid Bad Surprises
Whether it's just a small surprise like a note in their lunchboxes or a big surprise like a new pet, experiences that are unexpected tend to stick in a child's memory. While fun surprises help to create good childhood memories, bad surprises can do the opposite. Some bad surprises are unavoidable, such as telling your children about your impending separation or divorce. Even so, there are better ways to share this news with your children than others. Doing your best to soften the blow of this surprising news at the onset can help you avoid other bad surprises and unpleasant memories from popping up later on.
Talk and Listen
The conversations that you have with your kids during their childhood have the potential to stick in their memory all the way through adulthood. Talk to your kids, and ask them to share their feelings with you. Listen to what your children have to say without interrupting or making them feel like they shouldn't have those thoughts. Also, feel free to share your feelings with your kids while always being mindful not to share anything that's too hard for them to handle or understand. A child shouldn't be made into their parent's therapist, but memories of warm, honest conversations with each of their parents are positive thoughts that a child can look back on.
Kids are always paying attention, and as adults, they will recall all sorts of memories from their childhood. Some memories that your kids make will be remembered precisely, others will just be little thoughts or remanences of emotions felt at certain times. As a parent, do your best to help your kids make good childhood memories by shielding them from conflict and by spending real quality time together. Try to keep surprises for your kids fun, and take the time to have meaningful conversations throughout their childhood.