Helping Your Children During Your Divorce

Couples getting a divorce often worry about the impact on their children. Breaking the news, and helping children deal with their emotions and new routines may be challenging. Parents, however, may use a variety of strategies to make the transition easier.

Telling the Children

To minimize distress and uncertainty, children should know about the divorce earlier in the process instead of at the last minute. Experts give the following tips for the often difficult conversation with the children:

  • Tell the children together
  • Keep it simple and avoid going into details about each other's faults
  • Emphasize that the divorce is not the children's fault
  • Make sure the children understand that both parents still love them, and will always be involved in their lives

Regardless of which parent gets custody, it is very important to provide the children with a predictable, supportive and loving environment in each home.

Making the Transition Easier

Once the divorce is underway, experts provide the following suggestions for making the transition smoother:

  • Be upfront about changes: with two homes comes new routines and possibly tighter finances, set realistic expectations for children
  • Let children express their feelings: children often bottle emotions up, not wanting to put more stress on their parents
  • Minimize stress on the children: avoid speaking negatively about your ex around your children, and don't burden children with problems between you and your ex

Parents may also want to reach out to teachers and ask for help in monitoring how the children are doing. Teachers may recognize changes in children's behavior and performance at school.

If a child becomes depressed, more aggressive or uncooperative, experts recommend contacting the child's pediatrician for a referral to a child psychologist. In addition to therapy for the child, the psychologist can also advise parents on how to make the divorce easier on the family.

If couples make efforts to consider their children's needs, and work together as co-parents, there is no reason that children can't continue to lead normal and happy lives after a divorce.