Each year, millions of children are subject to the stress of divorce. While every child reacts to divorce differently, one sure thing is that it will affect them somehow.
Grieving the loss of the family is normal for children when they learn of their parents’ divorce. But while many children will show behavior changes in the first year of their parents’ separation, most adjustment issues will resolve within two to three years. Parents and children alike need time to accept their new circumstances after a divorce. Whether you are preparing to get divorced or have already separated, here are a few ways to help your children cope with the news of your divorce:
Encourage them to express themselves
Children need to know their parents still support them and care about their feelings during the divorce process. Let your kids know you are here to listen to them and encourage them to put their feelings into words to help them process their emotions and feel heard.
Validate their feelings
When going through a divorce, let your kids know that whatever they are feeling during this time is okay – even if they are upset with you for the time being. Some children may also feel relieved after learning of your divorce if you had a volatile relationship with your ex. Ensure they know they don’t have to feel guilty if they are excited about a better future.
Don’t bad mouth your ex
No matter where you stand with your ex, you shouldn’t air your grievances about them to your children. Ongoing tension and conflict between parents can be distressing for children and cause behavioral problems to continue. Keep your interactions civil with your ex around your children and keep the details of your divorce between adults.
Take care of yourself
To take the best care of your kids during this time, you’ll need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. By seeking help from a friend, relative, support group or therapist, you can ensure you are getting the support you need while also establishing healthy boundaries with your children.
Divorce is a trying time for families, but it’s important to remember that brighter days are ahead. With the right coping skills and time, you and your kids will get through this together.