Parents often tell their children that they love them simply because, well, they do love them. They want the children to know and they feel like it’s kind to tell them how they feel. It strengthens that bond between the parent and the child.
That’s a fine mindset and everything about it is accurate. The problem is just that it doesn’t go far enough. Knowing that they are loved is a very real need for children. It’s not just a kind thing to say or a way to build up a relationship. It’s something they need to hear if they’re going to thrive in life. They need it the same way that they need food or water or shelter.
This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re going through a divorce. Children may make the mistake of assuming that they caused the divorce or that their parents do not love them anymore and that that is why they don’t want to be a family.
As an adult, you know this isn’t true. Of course you and your ex still love your child. Of course they did not cause the divorce. It is happening for very adult reasons that are simply beyond the child’s scope or understanding. You need to make that clear, however, because what’s obvious to you may not be obvious to them.
Remember the way that a child looks at divorce. Remember that they need extra reassurance that you love them — and that your spouse does. As you look into your child custody options and think about your child’s best interests, take the time to consider how you can both show this love to the child and the difference that it can make in their life for years to come.