Over one million children are affected by
divorce each year, according to Family and Children Services. When parents’
divorce, kids must make a wide range of adjustments and may suffer psychological
effects, such as depression and loneliness. Fortunately, children can
also come out of a divorce better able to handle stress and become stronger adults.
The following are several ways you can help your children cope with divorce:
Re-assure your kids that they will always be loved by both parents – Although the family unit will endure a significant change, the
one thing that won’t change is the love you and the other parent
will have for your children.
Let your children know that the divorce is not their fault – Children can sometimes be egocentric and think that their behavior
was the result of the divorce. They must know that the adults have made
this decision based on their relationship and it has nothing to do with
them. Additionally, do not provide any hope that you and your ex-spouse
will get back together (i.e. The Parent Trap).
Encourage honesty – Your children need to be aware that their feelings and thoughts
are important to you and that you’ll take them seriously. After
the initial discussion about the divorce, you will most likely be asked
many questions before and after divorce. Be sure to encourage them to
ask away in order to help them adjust to their new lifestyle.
Help them put their feelings into words – If your children are feeling angry or sad, find out the reason
why they feel this way by simply asking. You need to be a good listener
and encourage them to discuss their feelings.
Don’t fight in front of your children – Studies show that kids who experience difficulties adjusting to
their post-divorce lives are those exposed to hostile disputes between
parents. While you cannot stand your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, you must top
fighting in front of your children for their own sake.
Provide your children ample advance notice prior to a parent moving out – Your kids need to be aware of important dates, such as moving out.
If your children are able to visit the second home and know where they
will sleep when they visit, it will better prepare them for the next chapter
in life. Additionally, get them involved in helping furnish the new place
and bring over some of their possessions.
Keep yourself healthy – While you are dealing with your kids’ stress, you also need
to deal with your own in a healthy way. Keep yourself as physically and
emotionally healthy as possible to help fight the effects of stress. When
you feel happy and good about yourself, your children will take notice
and feel better about themselves.
For more information about helping your kids cope with divorce,
contact Stepniak & Park today.