Special thanks to Irene Schreiner for permission to share this article
Divorce is difficult for everyone and during the entire process it is important to keep your kids in mind. They have the least amount of power in this situation and can often feel out of control as their life drastically changes. Here are some tips for supporting children dealing with divorce and making this process as smooth as possible from a child perspective:
1) If you’re divorcing with kids, reduce the level of conflict: Research shows that the main things that dictates how well kids recover from their parents’ divorce is the level conflict between the parents. You are getting a divorce for a reason. Clearly your relationship is not working out. However, despite the negative feelings you are experiencing towards your partner, make sure that you are being as cordial as possible. Don’t fight or discuss legal matters in front of your kids.
2) Never speak negatively about your ex-spouse in front of the kids or to the kids: Despite how you may feel about your ex-spouse, your kids love them and it is very confusing to hear negative things about their mom or dad.
3) When going through a divorce with kids, work with your ex-spouse on parenting: Despite the fact that your marriage didn’t work out, you still have the joint job of raising your kids. Do your best to work as a team on this. View them as a co-worker whose input you need to complete a very important project successfully.
4)How children deal with divorce varies so use age appropriate language: Keep in mind that this whole process is very confusing for your kids. When talking about your divorce, use simple language to explain what is happening.
5) When telling kids about divorce, be prepared for questions: Not all kids will have lots of questions but many will have some. Answer them as honestly as possible while not blaming other person.
6) Whether you’re divorcing with young kids or adolescents, make your kids feel safe: Remind them that you will always love no matter what. Encourage them to share their feelings and validate them. Keep their routine as normal and predictable as possible.
7) Helping kids cope with divorce is easier if you create a strong support system: Let teachers and school counselors know what the kids are going through so they can pay attention to any signs of distress. Coach grandparents, aunts/uncles and other important people in the kid’s life on how to speak with them or answer any questions that they may have. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help when needed and for any reason.”