How to Help Children Cope With a Divorce

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  • 7/6/16
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  • Child Coping With Divorce
    Cope With Divorce
    Divorce affects thousands of children each year. Whether the divorce process has been amicable or stormy, kids will most likely feel anger, fear and anxiety. Fortunately, there are steps you can take during the divorce process to help your child emerge as a flexible, open-minded and strong individual.

    1. Break the news calmly. Both parents should participate in the discussion, if possible. Keep feelings of hostility in check. Make sure kids know the divorce is not their fault. Children commonly feel guilt over their parents' divorces, so reassure them that they bear no responsibility.

    2. Answer children's questions truthfully and as completely as possible without denigrating the other parent. Kids don't need to know the whole story, especially if it makes one parent look bad. Tell kids which parts of their daily lives will change and which will remain the same.

    3. Encourage children to express their feelings. Let them know that their emotions are normal and natural. Emphasize that you will always listen to their concerns.

    Discuss living arrangements and plans for holidays, and solicit their input.

    4. Speak positively about the other parent. Keep conflict to yourself, and don't discuss legal aspects with the kids. Avoid negativity and blame.

    Never stoop to criticism or name-calling when your kids can hear you. Damaging events such as infidelity evoke strong emotions, but it is especially important to keep these details from the children. Never encourage your children to take sides.

    5. Seek the support of professionals. Look for a support group, locate online resources or speak to other divorced parents.

    Never ask for support from your children. Save your venting for a friend, counselor or therapist.

    6. Provide alone time with each parent. Take care to accommodate your ex-spouse as you both work on establishing a visitation schedule.

    Whenever possible, both parents should stay involved in their children's lives. Kids might be resistant to equal-time arrangements if it interferes with their own activities. Remain flexible, but explain how important it is for both of you to remain in their lives.

    7. Avoid tugs-of-war. Decide which custody arrangement will most benefit the children. Some kids thrive when they spend an equal amount of time with each parent, while others need the stability of one home.

    Remember that the arrangement is about the needs of the children, not the needs of the parents. Focus on the children when making decisions regarding birthdays, holidays and vacations. Don't put kids in the position of having to choose one parent over the other.

    8. Maintain consistency in routines by expressing expectations for similar rules, bedtimes and homework in both houses. The stability will help reduce anxiety. Never relax limits because you feel guilty about putting your kids through the stress of divorce.

    Maintaining stability and normalcy will help the children feel more secure during a stressful time of change. Most importantly, remember to shower your kids with hugs and affection. Assure them that the bond between parent and child will never be broken by divorce.

    Image Credit:  allspice1
    Written By:  Shannon R
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