If you have children, it is no surprise that the end of your marriage is tough on them. How they react often depends on their age, personality, and the circumstances surrounding the divorce.
Every divorce will affect the children involved—often resulting in shock, sadness, anger, frustration, and worry. Fortunately, kids also can come of it better able to cope with stress and perhaps become more tolerant, adaptable young adults.
Here are eight tips to help your children cope with divorce:
- Tell your kids that the divorce is not their fault. One of the most common reactions upon hearing about divorce is guilt—If only I had behaved better, mom and dad would still be together. It is important to tell them that there was no way they could have caused nor prevented the divorce. Let them know that you are not divorcing them.
- Reassure your kids that they will always be loved by both parents. Letting your children know that your love for them hasn’t changed can be a substantial impact. Tell them that both parents will still be caring for them in every way possible.
- Allow your children to express their emotions. Do not downplay your child’s pain and sadness. Encourage honesty because kids need to know that their feelings are important and should be taken seriously. It is important to let your kids “get it all out” before offering ways to make it better. It’s normal for children to have difficulty expressing their feelings, so help them by noticing their moods and encouraging them to speak.
- Address changes. Prepare for your kids’ questions about changes in their lives by acknowledging that some things will be different from now on and how other things will remain the same.
- Talking about divorce is an ongoing process. Throughout the process, children may have new questions or concerns about what is happening to them. Always be willing to explain each and every step of the way to help them adjust.
- Do not talk badly about the other parent. Kids can easily experience loyalty conflict and feel badly, which can prevent an open dialogue. In addition, do not fight with the other parent in front of your children since studies show that the most poorly adjusted kids of divorce are those who had experienced ongoing parental disputes.
- Get friend and family involved. Try to include reliable, caring adults in your children’s lives. Not only are devoted family members and friends act as role models your kids can depend on, but their commitment takes the pressure off you.
- Provide your children with advanced notice before a parent moves out. Enable your kids to visit the second home and know where they will sleep when they visit. Furthermore, get them involved in decorating or furnishing the place.
There is no question that a divorce is hard on everyone involved. However, if children continue to feel loved by both of their parents and parents do their best to create a stable environment for their kids, children can emerge from this situation in great shape.