Studies have shown that divorce does affect children. As parents, we want to minimize the bad affects for our kids. We are going to take a look at the different developmental stages for kids and address how we can give the best care and support to our children so they can develop healthily in spite of the divorce.
Our role is to help our child so that he does not regress emotionally and developmentally to an earlier stage of life. When trauma strikes such as a divorce, there are things we can do to help our child move forward and not get stuck or revert backwards.
If you are getting divorced while your baby is from birth up to 6 months there are a few things you should know. This is a time for the baby to begin to learn about trust. They learn whether their environment is a safe place and whether their needs are met. So learning they can trust in this early part of their life is very important. Babies hopefully learn and trust that their needs will be met in a timely manner, learn to trust that they are loved, learn to trust that their environment is safe.
Even in the womb, babies can detect mom’s emotions and feelings. They are very much aware of their mom’s emotional state. And this can have a positive or negative effect on the child. If mom is going through a divorce or separation during this time, baby can sense her tension and will become agitated himself. He may cry more, his movements may become unsettled or jerky, his sleep patterns may be altered and he may have digestive problems. Now the infant may not know anything about the divorce at this age, but he is reacting to the tension in the atmosphere and his parent’s emotional state. This causes their security and safety to feel threatened which brings us back to learning to trust at this time in their life.
So our goal as parents is to give our babies safety and security even in the midst of what may be a very difficult time for us. Once we have a child, it is no longer about us but about that child. So, as the parent, do everything you can to give your baby a trusting environment free of tension. As I talked about on an earlier broadcast, you must take care of yourself so that you are ready to take care of your child.
While your baby is sleeping, take time to release your tension in the way that is best for you: exercise, talk with a trusted friend, journal, pray, whatever it may be: do it so that when baby wakes up, you feel peaceful and can meet babies needs.
How to best help your baby to progress healthily in this developmental stage of learning to trust will be:
Hold baby often and securely. Make him feel important and loved. Babies who feel anxious need lots of cuddling and affection.
Make eye contact with your baby while you hold her. Make sure your facial expression is reflecting love and acceptance to your baby.
Talk to your baby in a soothing and calming voice. Sing to your little one and hold her hand while you look into her eyes. He or she will feel comforted and feel more secure.
During this time, you probably can’t love, hold, rock and engage your baby too much. Your goal is to help baby to develop trust in his environment and you: that his surroundings are safe, and that you are there to meet her needs.
Learning to trust you now will help your child learn to trust God later in his life. Proverbs 56: 3, 4a says “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust: I will not be afraid.”
I know if you are going through a separation and your baby is this young, you are probably very devastated. I am so sorry. And you may have to work full time and you are thinking how am I supposed to hold my baby all the time so they can feel loved and learn trust. You may not be able to but if you can, do it. If not, find someone who does love your baby and will go the extra mile to help your little one to feel safe and secure. Trust the Lord with your life and the life of your child, He is faithful and He cares and He loves you personally. He knows exactly where you are so call upon His Name everyday to help you. He is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother.