Tips for Helping Children Cope with Divorce
Most are aware of the statistic that 50 percent of marriages end in separation or divorce. However, when couples get married and have children, they still want to believe that they won’t be one of those couples in this statistic, especially those who grew up in a two-parent household. So, when marriages end, it is difficult to move from couple status to single status. For those with children, this transition can be made even more difficult given that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that children adapt as best as possible to life with divorced parents. And for this reason, parents should work together to help their children cope with divorce.
All children deal with the news of divorce differently. Some will wear their hearts on their sleeve and express what they think and feel, while others are silent and block their parents in every moment. Regardless of how children deal with the initial shock of hearing that their parents will no longer be together, all feelings are valid and should be treated as such. After all, not only do divorced couples see their worlds turned upside down, but their children too. Therefore, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it wouldn’t be uncommon for children to still experience their feelings surrounding divorce for two to three years after it has happened before bouncing back. This is why it is so important to have parents who support you throughout the process.
Here’s how to help kids cope with divorce.
6 Have open lines of communication
Many times the lack of communication is what has contributed to the decline of the marriage itself. As such, parents need to figure out how to be open and honest with their children from the time the separation and divorce are discussed and through the weeks, months and years that follow.
According to Institute of the Spirit of the Child, parents must show unity when telling their children that they are divorcing. That way, it shows kids that even though their parents are going to live in two separate places, they’re still on the same page when it comes to parenthood and want their kids to be able to ask them whatever questions they want. might have regarding the situation.
By keeping these lines of communication open throughout the divorce, according to Divorce of men, children are more likely not to repeat the divorce when they are of marrying age. This is because even though parents may not have been able to communicate effectively and be vulnerable with each other, they are teaching their children how valuable these skills are as they get older. And when these skills are learned, children are less passive-aggressive and more direct with how they are feeling, which is healthier for all parties involved.
5 Don’t make them the source of parental support
There is no doubt that divorce can be emotionally and psychologically difficult for parents. However, when support is needed, outlets other than children should be used to express the distress felt.
According to Very good family, the key to helping children cope with divorce is to have a “healthy relationship” with them. This means that the parents are supposed to be the support of the children. Not the opposite. As such, when support is needed, relying on friends, family or professionals is the path parents should take to ensure that they are not unloading their emotional baggage on their children.
If this is done, according to the publication, the children will have “better self-esteem and better academic results” after the divorce.
4 Allow all the feelings to be felt
Parents want to protect their children from any negative feelings that divorce may cause. However, instead of coating everything in sugar, parents should make it clear that whatever children are feeling right now is not only recognized but normal.
According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, parents should admit to their children that the end of a marriage is “sad for everyone”. When parents do this rather than paint the divorce in a bright and happy light, children understand that their emotions are valid and that whatever they feel is appropriate for the situation.
3 Recognize that a change is happening
Sometimes parents feel the need to keep everything exactly the same after a divorce is announced. But in reality, things are changing and we have to admit it.
According to DivorceNet, there is an adjustment period that will take place in the days and months following the initial separation. Instead of hiding under the rug that a change is happening, acknowledging it and talking about it if necessary to help children cope with divorce.
2 Don’t let children choose between their parents
Children can feel torn when it comes to spending time with one parent rather than the other so that they don’t hurt any feelings. As such, it is imperative that children never feel pressured into choosing between their parents.
According to Psychology today, it can be hard to hear kids wanting to spend time with the other parent for an event or vacation. Even more difficult, we can hear that children want to live with one parent rather than the other. When this happens, according to the post, parents should do their best not to react to these comments and do their best to accommodate the children’s decisions. By never feeling like they have to choose between their parents and that there is a support system there, children will be able to overcome divorce in the healthiest way possible.
1 Reassure them repeatedly that the divorce is not their fault
Perhaps more importantly, parents need to reassure their children that the divorce is not their fault.
In many cases, children will have heard arguments between their parents on a variety of topics, some of which may revolve around them. As such, they may believe that they are to blame for the end of the marriage. In order to prevent this from happening, according to Surviving Divorce, parents should immediately “take the blame” for the reason for the end of the marriage and reassure children that no blame is on them. Let them know that they are loved and that even with the end of the marriage, that will never change. And by doing this, children may be able to successfully navigate the waters of their divorcing parents.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Mind Institute, Men’s Divorce, VeryWell Family, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, DivorceNet, Psychology Today, Survive Divorce
Children may fear that their father or mother will divorce them, or they may blame one of the parents for the divorce.
About the Author