Helping Children Cope with Divorce

Source: one tough job

Divorce can be hard on the entire family, both parents and children. However, sometimes there isn't an alternative when two people have differences that they can't work out. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to prepare your child for your divorce. Try to keep it as simple as possible because what matters most to children is how their lives will and will not change. The most important thing is to reassure children that the divorce is not their fault.

tips for getting your family through these changes

Support your child. Children react differently to divorce depending on their age, personality, and the situation. Some children need outside help from an unrelated person in order to come to terms with the divorce because it may be too hard for them to talk to a parent. If you have more than one child, each one may have different feelings about the situation and towards one or both parents.

Be respectful of the other parent. Although you may have your differences and disagreements with your ex-spouse, remember that he is your child's other parent. Even if your ex-spouse sometimes disappoints your child by failing to show up at a school event or by canceling on a weekend visit, sympathize with your child without saying anything negative about the other parent. For example, let her know that you realize she is disappointed that dad canceled his visit for the weekend, but reassure your child that he does love her.

Be consistent. Your children will have an easier time adjusting to this big change in their life if you can keep their routine the same. Sit down with your ex-spouse and go over things like chores, bedtimes, allowance, the homework routine, and the amount of television and computer time allowed, and agree to keep these things consistent between your two households.

Be flexible. In many divorced families, parents either share custody or one parent has primary custody and the other parent gets the children on certain weekends and holidays. Whatever the arrangement may be, try to be flexible for the sake of your children. Focus on what is best for them and avoid a power struggle with your ex-spouse. For example, if your child is supposed to spend the weekend at mom's but his friend is having a birthday party and mom lives far away, arrange to swap a weekend so that he does not miss out on the birthday party or the time with mom.

Take care of yourself. Divorce is hard on parents as well as children. You have gone from having a live-in support system to being a single parent. Even if you were used to taking care of your children on your own, there was still someone around to share the worry with and count on in an emergency. Try not to rely on your children for company and emotional support. Don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help and try to take a little time for yourself every now and then.

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