Five Ways to Help Your Kids Make Sense of Your Divorce

Five Ways to Help Your Kids Make Sense of Your Divorce

Divorce is often traumatic for kids. Younger kids may have a hard time understanding what’s going on, but often feel that it’s all their fault. Older kids worry about losing a parent or moving and losing all their friends. Kids don’t need—or want—a lot of personal details, but it’s usually reassuring if they have a general idea about how the divorce is going to change their lives. In particular, they need to be reassured that their relationships with both parents are going to remain intact. Here are five ways you can accomplish this.

  1. Make it clear that you’re still working together as a team and that your caring relationship with your kids hasn’t changed. If you’re able to discuss the divorce calmly and without bitterness or anger, this will make the kids feel you’re still competent and capable of taking care of them. Nothing could be more positive for your kids than feeling their parents are in control and the world is still safe.
  2. Avoid blame. There’s really no reason for the children to know any of the upsetting details about the divorce—they would only find them, well, upsetting. Children identify with both their parents and criticizing a parent can feel to the child as if he or she is being criticized.
  3.  Encourage your kids to talk honestly about how they feel. It’s important to make the emotional atmosphere as safe as possible for your kids, and it will be easier for them if they can safely express their real feelings instead of having the added pressure of thinking they have to react in a certain way to please you.
  4. Let them know that many things will stay the same. And try to see to it that they do. If at all possible, it’s very helpful for kids to be able to go to the same schools and see the same friends everyday. If you’ve had family traditions, like Thursday pizza night, it’s important to keep these alive during the divorce.
  5. Don’t overwhelm your kids. If they’re clearly uncomfortable with a conversation about the divorce, don’t force the issue.

Divorce is challenging for everyone – especially for children. It’s important that both spouses commit to doing everything they can to support their children during this process. As we’ve written before, kids are innocent bystanders in divorce, and they should be fully protected. Please contact us today if you’d like to learn more!

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