"Helping Your Children Adjust to Divorce"

Sad looking boy with his fighting parents behind him

     Going through a divorce can be stressful and difficult. It can even be more difficult for your child so it is important to help your child during this time. This article will give you a few ideas that will help your child.

     Before you announce the divorce or separation to your child, discuss what you will say before having the talk. It is also a good idea for both parents to be present if possible. Explain to your child that it is not his or her fault. Often time’s children will think they are to blame and it can bring on feelings of guilt, loss of love, and abandonment. Let your child know that he or she is still loved. Allow your child to ask questions and encourage him or her to express their feelings and continue to have an open dialog.

     It isn’t necessary to go into all the reasons for divorce but make sure that what you say is truthful. Be open and honest with your child. Keep it simple and use language your child can understand. You can say something like “we feel it is best that we live in separate homes so we don’t fight.” Or “we can’t seem to get along so we feel it is best if we live apart.” How much detail you go into also depends on your child’s age.

     If there is going to be a change in your child’s routine, let your child know.  If your child is going to stay with the other parent on weekends, or be picked up from school by a different parent, let your child know the new schedule.

     Keep structure in the family. Let your child know he or she is safe and secure. If one of you takes on a partner and has a new family, make sure your child knows he or she is welcome into that family. Keep each other abreast of your child’s activities such as school, grades, etc. Continue to be a part of your child’s life.

     If your child has changes in behavior, such as depression or anger, it might be advisable to let your child talk to a professional therapist. As a parent, you are dealing with your own issues and effects of divorce and you may not know how to handle the situation. Be strong for your child. Don’t depend on your child to be strong for you and help you through the difficult times. Now is the time, more than ever, to be there for your child. Let your child know he or she is loved and appreciated.

     Don’t talk negative about each other to your child. If discussing the divorce with others either in person or over the phone, be aware if your child can hear what you are saying. Also be aware of any messages, letters or other correspondence lying around that your child could see.