Ten Ways to Help Kids Through Divorce

Divorce is a difficult time for parents, but also for children.  Parents should make every effort to prepare children for divorce.  divorce broken heart shutterstock_119684845There is no way to prevent kids from being upset about their parents’ divorce.  However, there are ways to ease children’s fears and anger and confusion.  Here are ten suggestions for helping your children through divorce:

  1. Parents should tell their children about the upcoming divorce as soon as a firm decision is made to proceed with the divorce process.  Remember, this information will be indelibly etched in your child’s mind, so think about the proper way to talk to your children about your pending divorce.  Don’t just blurt out the information without deciding how to advise your kids.  If possible, both parents should be present when the children are told.
  2. If there are major age differences between your children, you may want to talk to the children separately on a level each child can understand.
  3. Let the children know that you too are upset about the divorce and the breakup between you and your spouse.  You want your children to be able to feel sad about the divorce without having to hide their feelings from you.
  4. Try to present the decision to divorce as a solution that you and your spouse have reached together after trying every other option to resolve differences.
  5. Let the children know that each of you will remain loving parents even though you have reluctantly decided to get divorced.
  6. Be truthful with the children.  Be honest about the fact that things are going to change.  One parent may be moving out of the house.  The house may be sold. Acknowledge that the divorce will be bring changes that the whole family will have to address.
  7. Tell the children again that the divorce will not weaken the bond between parent and child, even if the children do not live with that parent.  Children need to be reassured that even though the parents are divorcing each other they are not divorcing the children.
  8. Make sure the children know that the divorce is not their fault. Children should never be allowed to assume guilt for causing the end of the marriage.  Let the children know that the decision to divorce has been made, and that the children should not use their energies to think about ways to bring the parents back together.
  9. Don’t involve the children in your own hurt, anger and frustration with the divorce.  Children have a right to their own feelings and should not be asked or forced to take sides in the divorce.
  10. Foster the relationship with the other parent.  Don’t try to alienate your children’s relationship with the other parent.  With a joint effort on the part of each parent, the children even in the turmoil of divorce can feel safe and loved.