Four ways to help your children cope with your divorce

Divorce is typically a stressful and emotional time for the entire family. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), most children adjust well to divorce within about two years, but some actions you take as a parent could make their adjustment easier.

Talk to your kids about the divorce

When you first tell your children about your upcoming divorce, it can be helpful to have your spouse participate in the conversation as well. You and your spouse can determine ahead of time what you will say, so you can present one explanation that does not vilify either parent.

Children typically benefit from a simplified but honest explanation. Young children may not fully understand the concept of divorce, so several short conversations may be necessary.

After telling your children about your divorce, be prepared for a variety of reactions. It may be appropriate to reassure your children that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents still love them. It is also helpful for children to know that both parents will continue to be available to talk about the divorce.

Minimize change when possible

Sudden change can be difficult for children. Since divorce is inherently filled with changes, it can be helpful to minimize changes when possible and provide notice before changes that cannot be avoided.

For example, if a parent is going to move out, consider telling your children about this change a few weeks ahead of time, so that it does not come as a shock. Incorporating familiar items into a new living space can also help children feel more comfortable there.

Help your children maintain a relationship with their other parent

Children often cope to divorce better when they are able to maintain a close relationship with both parents. This is why shared physical custody is a preferable custody option for many families. However, you can also help your children maintain healthy relationships with you and your spouse by keeping conflicts away from the children and avoiding negative comments to your children about their other parent.

Take care of yourself

Do not forget to take care of your own needs during divorce. Talking with family, friends or a support group can help you cope with your emotions during your divorce. By taking care of yourself, you will have an easier time managing daily tasks. You will also put yourself in a better position to help your children deal with their own emotions struggles during this stressful time.

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