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Helping Kids Through Divorce

How to Help Kids Through a Divorce

Going through a divorce can consume your life. You essentially have to go from living as a family unit under one roof to learning how to live separately. For a couple with no children, this new reality can be daunting, and the spouses will likely need some extra support from friends and family to get through it. For a couple with children, it is even more difficult.

If you are going through a divorce with kids, so are your kids. The divorce will change your child's day-to-day reality. They will go from not seeing both parents every day to changing homes and possibly schools. During this transition, it is essential to offer your children extra support to help them through what will surely be a life-changing and challenging event in their lives.

Tips for Reducing the Impacts of your Divorce on your Children

Use a Routine

A regular schedule can help a child going through a life change such as divorce. Keep them in their same extracurricular activities, if possible. Tell them when they will see each parent. Make a calendar for older children so they can anticipate how each week/month will go.

Don't Speak Negatively about their other Parent

Yes, you are getting divorced for a reason, but your children likely do not need the gory details. Whether you like it or not, both parents will remain in the children's lives, and you will probably run into your spouse at an extracurricular activity, recital, or graduation. There is no need to add to the awkwardness and drag your children into the middle.

Reassure your Child it is not their Fault

It is common for children to think that their misbehavior, in some way, contributed to their parents' divorce. Be very clear and tell your children that the divorce has nothing to do with them and only to do with you and your spouse. Even if you think they already know this, it doesn't hurt to mention it again.

Make Extra Time for your Children

Give them a little extra attention, whether it's reading a few more books together or just sitting and talking. Make sure they know that you are still there for them.

Have Fun with your Kids

Spend time just having fun with your kids. It doesn't always need to be serious discussions about the divorce and upcoming changes. Show them that you are still a fun parent.

Show Admiration for your Co-Parent

This can be difficult, but it's important to foster the relationship between the children and the other parent. Even something as simple as thanking your spouse for taking the children to their extracurricular activities can go a long way in the eyes of your child.

Encourage Time with Both Parents

As mentioned above, it is vital to foster the relationship between your children and their other parent. Show interest in what your children did during visitation time with the other parent.

Talk about the Divorce with your Co-Parent

Discussing the divorce together shows that you put the children first. It will also give the children the sense that everything is out in the open and you are not hiding anything from them.

Give your child some things to Control

Let them make age-appropriate decisions about their schedule (i.e., bedtime, when to do homework, etc.). Having a sense of control over a small part of their life can help counteract the other changes.

Encourage them to be a Kid

Kids can feel like they have to grow up quickly to protect their parents during a divorce. Even if you are having a hard time coping, don't bog down your child with your issues. Talk through everything with a friend, family member, or a professional, if necessary, and let your kids enjoy their childhood.

This list is inspired by:

Remember, Your Children Are Going Through This Divorce Too, by Michelle Crosby, May 6, 2014, huffingtonpost.com.

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