an upset girl with toy, divorce

Every aspect of a divorce can have significant effects on the children who are involved. From explaining the news and preparing the kids for the changes ahead to the recurring challenges that exist with co-parenting, the way the entire situation is handled can make all the difference in the way children adjust. The following tips are recommended to help minimize the effects this traumatic experience has on children.

Breaking the News of Divorce

In a perfect world, both parents would be able to sit down with the kids and calmly explain the news of their impending divorce without conflict. In many cases, however, this simply isn’t possible because emotional tension and anger often interfere with effective communication. If parents feel confident that they can put their negative feelings on hold while breaking the news of divorce to their children, then telling the kids together can be a healthy idea. Otherwise, each parent should set aside time to discuss the topic separately.

Even in high-conflict marriages where all of the signs of an upcoming divorce have been brewing for quite some time, breaking the news can still cause shock and bewilderment for children. A child’s age and emotional condition should be taken into consideration when determining how to address the situation. Older kids, for example, can often handle more in-depth discussions about divorce, while younger children, or those with emotional or developmental issues often require more simple explanations. Regardless of a child’s age and level of tolerance however, parents should exercise patience and be prepared for unexpected reactions. In the end, kids should be reassured that the marriage dissolution is not their fault in any way.

Adjusting to a New Future

Parents aren’t the only ones who are affected by separation or relocation, financial changes, and schedule adjustments. Kids can experience significant amounts of anxiety, anger and stress caused by these life-altering factors as well. When divorce is inevitable, it is vital that children’s sense of security is maintained as much as possible and that any disruptions are minimized.

  • Children should be informed about upcoming lifestyle changes before they happen so they have time to adjust. Sudden moves, changes in daycare providers and schools, and even small schedule adjustments can upset a child’s routine and wreak havoc on his or her sense of security.
  • Whenever possible, kids should be allowed to continue their regular routines. Extracurricular activities, visits with friends and family members, church attendance if applicable, and even daily in-home schedules like bedtimes, meal times and leisure activities should be maintained to minimize disruption.

Communication is Essential

All of the changes that come with divorce are almost certain to raise a few concerns and questions. To help kids cope more effectively, parents should be sure to keep the doors of communication open at all times. By encouraging questions, listening effectively and promptly addressing concerns, parents can help kids feel more comfortable about sharing their feelings both now and in the future.

Self Care for Parents Helps Kids Cope with Divorce

Dealing with all of the complications that commonly surround the divorce process can be emotionally and physically draining for parents. For some, the challenges can be overwhelming, often interfering with adequate rest, healthy diet and other aspects of self care. Now more than ever, it is vital that divorcing moms and dads take good care of themselves so they can maintain the strength needed to provide support to their kids.

  • Utilizing a good support system can make all the difference in the emotional stability of a divorcing parent. Turning to friends and family members is often an effective way to vent frustrations, seek helpful advice or assistance, or even to enjoy a little distraction when the stress of an ending marriage becomes too much. Additionally, there are a wide variety of support groups available in Illinois and even online that are often helpful to those coping with divorce.
  • Consuming a healthy diet and following consistent exercise and sleep routines can be very effective for helping divorcing parents relieve emotional stress and maintain physical health.

Understanding Children’s Reactions to Divorce

Every child is unique, so it is only to be expected that each child’s reactions will be one-of-a-kind as well. While some kids seem to get the storm of reactions out of the way immediately, others suppress their feelings for months following a divorce. To ensure that kids are coping with the changes effectively and healthily, parents should familiarize themselves with the warning signs of complications and know when to seek professional help. They should watch for changes in social habits/ friends, behavioral problems in school, academic issues, and eating or sleeping difficulties. In some cases, kids just need a little time to adjust. In other situations, however, parental intervention or even therapy may be necessary to help kids cope with divorce.