Risk, Resilience and Protective Factors
Relationships with loving adults in your extended family(ies) can protect your child from the debilitating effects of the chronic stress and trauma of a family breakup. Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie, Uncle, Cousins, special friends. These people love your child without judgement or hidden motives. Losing these important relationships will only cause more grief and uncertainty for your child - protect them. Allow your child to have time and care from the circle of people who are family.
Close family relationships require contact, time spent together in order to stay strong. Parents need to plan regular contact for their children with the important adults in the extended family from the beginning of the family breakup. Those close to the children, but not directly involved in the intensity of the emotional upheaval can provide consistency and a sense of security to children experiencing big changes.
Be proactive and protect those strong and nurturing relationships with the significant adults in the life of your child. Ask them to spend regular time every week with your child. It doesn't take much. A trip to the ice cream/frozen yogurt store. A ride-a-long to the grocery store, a walk to a local park, a shared meal every Sunday night, or just dropping by to read a book. It is the regular and predictable contact that is important, not the big event or lots of time!
Expand your notion of co-parenting. It's a relationship with another adult who agrees to help you be a good parent to your child, and to be a good role model to your child. Sometimes it is your child's other parent and you are able to have a strong and cooperative co-parenting relationship. But that may take time and, for some, it may never happen. And your children can't wait. They can't stop learning, growing, developing, reaching for their potential.
We know from the research that a strong bond with a significant adult -- caretaker, teacher, coach, scout leader, extended family member or other mentor-like person -- in the life of a child can provide the emotional sustenance and psychological support so necessary during times of family crisis / complex family transitions.
These are people who love your child just for being. Who tell your child s/he is competent, strong, and brave. Who tell your child s/he can do it! These adults are not dealing with guilt, anger, fear, depression, terror, and/or shame every time they look at the child. These adults simply see the child. And every child needs to be seen for who they are and for the potential they have within them.