Helping Your Child Cope with Divorce

It’s no secret that many married couples get divorced while their children are still young. Parents may decide to get divorced for a variety of reasons, but ultimately the decision is made with the well-being of the entire family in mind. While parents are coping with divorce themselves, it can be hard to grasp just how divorce may impact their child’s life and how to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. Here are some ways to help your child cope with divorce.

Encourage Honesty

Having open conversations and answering any questions your child might have about the divorce allows them to trust you. The stronger and more open the relationship between you and your child is, you can more effectively communicate with them why it’s happening. At the same time, don’t feel obligated to overshare – some aspects of the divorce should stay between adults.

Mutual Respect

Having an understanding of the situation leads to mutual respect between child and parent. It’s also very important, if possible, for both parents to have mutual respect allowing for co-parenting. For a child, it may be difficult to adjust to not having both parents around at the same time, but if there is co-parenting, the child may adjust quicker and become more comfortable because they are still able to spend time with both parents.

Avoid Arguing in Front of Children

When it comes down to discussing divorce and playing the “blame game”, keep it away from the children. Arguments in front of them can be frightening and stressful. These discussions are unavoidable, and it’s important to have them behind closed doors or in the presence of a professional such as a therapist or mediator.

Patience

Each child reacts differently when they hear that their parents are getting a divorce. Their behaviors may sway from anger to acceptance and back again. It’s important to be understanding and patient with them as they learn to cope. Encourage them to share their feelings about the situation and assure them that you will do what you can to help them come to terms with the divorce, whether that’s more one-on-one time, or seeking help from a counselor. Try to be receptive to their needs.

If your child experiences emotional outbursts, or is acting out as a result of divorce, it’s important to speak to a professional. A school counselor or therapist can help devise a plan on how to best support your child.