Children and Divorce

Children of divorce: Tips to help kids adjust to a new family situation

Divorce, for children, can bring up issues of abandonment, confusion and resentment. Struggling through issues of your own, it's important to realize and legitimize your children's own struggles and feelings. Hopefully, your partner and you, no matter what ill feelings you have towards each other, still have your children's best interest at heart.

When telling your children of an impending divorce, be honest, be straightforward and keep it simple. Although you don't have to get into gritty details, you're children will have a great trust in you and your ex if you don't lie at this critical juncture. Tell them together, reiterate how much you both love them and stress that this was not their fault.

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To ease the transition, answer any questions your children may have about how their lives will change. Be ready to answer questions that may seem trivial to you, such as where will the family dog live? Which parent will leave the house? Will they have a room of their own? Will they go to the same school? etc. Before telling your child about a divorce, at least have a rough plan in place to reassure them of any changes.

When your spouse has left, allow your children to grieve. They may yell, scream or cry. Do not take it personally. This is a confusing time, and each child will react in different ways. Seeking counseling for yourself and your children is important. As much as you may want to not discuss things because it is painful, keep an open-door policy so your children are not forced to bottle things up. NEVER speak ill of your ex in front of your children, no matter how tempting it is. That is still their father or mother, and he or she deserves your respect.

Keep schedules as similar as possible to those before the divorce. Make sure your children still attend their sporting events, play rehearsals or clubs. By not disrupting all avenues of their lives, you ensure they will feel more secure. Set up a visitation schedule between your ex and you, and stick with it. It's important that your children know where they will be so they are reassured of a continuing relationship with the both of you.

If you're the parent who has moved out, make sure your children feel as though your home is their home. If possible, get a bedroom for them. If not, make sure they have an area all to their own. Buy some toys and clothes to keep at your house so they feel welcome and not as though they are a guest.

Divorce is a painful experience for all involved. Above all, make sure you are healthy physically and emotionally to provide a stable environment for your child. Be patient. Be considerate. Be loving.

By Molly Carter