How to Foster a Positive Outlook on Family in Your Child
When you're a parent going through a divorce, your thoughts are likely to run quickly to your children. You're worried about how they are coping with this big transition today, doing all you can to shield them from the negative effects they might be at risk of experiencing. But while you're concerned about how they're handling it all, your child's concerns might be more focused on other things, one of which may be how they perceive your family now.
If you ask a child how they feel about their parents' divorce or separation today versus a few years after the fact, the answer you get completely depends on the outlook they have on their family. You can't always tell your child how to feel in the future, but you can encourage your child's feelings in both positive and negative ways. Here are two simple strategies that can help you foster a positive outlook on family in your child.
Support Healthy Relationships With Both Sides of the Family
Negative feelings between co-parents after a painful divorce or separation isn't abnormal. Such an enormous transition—particularly one that parents probably did not expect themselves to go through—can certainly lead to sore feelings or even conflict. Even if these feelings exist between parents, it does not mean that a child's relationship with either parent should suffer. Supporting your child in maintaining a relationship with both sides of the family can help to improve their outlook on their family. As long as there are no matters concerning safety that could impact these relationships, kids should be able to have them.
Do your best to advocate for these relationships, keeping your own positive outlook on the situation. Respect your child's time with your co-parent and their family, and let your child talk about their time with their other family members with you. Be sure to share important information with your co-parent about your child's schedule, academics, and more. Even inviting your co-parent and their family to special events for your child that you are planning is great, as long as it is comfortable for your child first and foremost.
Choose a Meal Time, Make It a Tradition
You've probably heard it said many times before, but family meals offer multiple benefits for kids of all ages. They provide a sense of structure, can improve a child's diet, and even boost their vocabulary and academic performance. Whether it's a quick breakfast before school or long dinner at the end of the day, family meals are a simple way to foster positive outlooks on family for every member.
As a divorced or separated parent, the time you spend with your children may be less than it was prior to the transition, changing your family's routine of meal times spent together. While this may be the case, consider your parenting schedule and what times you could lock down a tradition of family meals with your child. Make a habit of sharing a regular meal with your child whenever they are with you. This creates an extra event for you both to look forward to when you're together and helps foster close relationships between your child and both of their parents.
Fostering a positive outlook on family won't just improve the way your child thinks about your family. It can also influence their thoughts on family and relationships in their own life as teens and adults. Work to instill a healthy and positive attitude about family in your child by giving them many reasons to want to feel that way.