What Every Parent Needs to Know about Helping Kids Cope with Divorce
No doubt separation or divorce is a huge process and emotional experience for all the people involved. Children often feel that their whole life has turned upside down. At any age, it is disturbing to witness the nullification of your parents’ marriage and separation of the family. Children may get traumatized, feeling unstable, or angry. Some may even feel responsible, blaming themselves for the troubles at home. Divorce is never a hidden process and, certainly, such a transitional time doesn’t go on without some standard of grief and suffering. But you can instantly relieve your children’s pain by making their life your top priority.
Your tolerance, comfort, and a listening ear can reduce tension as your children learn to cope with unusual situations. Because your kids depend on you, you remember them that they can trust you for strength, stability, and attention. By maintaining a working relationship with your ex, you can support your kids helping to prevent the stress and grief that comes with eyeing parents in the clash. With your support, your kids can not only successfully cross this disturbing time, but even rise from it feeling loved, confident, and strong—and even with a closer bond to both parents.
What to Say and How to Say it?
When it comes to telling your kids about your divorce, many parents stiffen up. Allow your kids and yourself to feel a little more comfortable by thinking about what you’re going to say before you sit down for the conversation. If you can expect difficult questions, handle your anxieties ahead of time, and plan carefully what you’ll be telling them, you will be better prepared to help your kids survive the news.
Tough as it may be, try to hit a compassionate tone, and meet the most important steps right upfront. Give your children the help of an honest—but kid-friendly—explanation upfront.
- Say “I love you.” However modest it may sound, letting your kids know that your love for them hasn’t been lost is important. Tell them you still care for them in every way, from preparing their breakfast to supporting them with homework.
- Tell the truth. Your kids are allowed to know why you are getting a divorce, but lengthy reasons may only disturb them. Try something simple and sincere.
- Show constraint. Be respectful of your ex when giving an explanation of a divorce.
- Express changes. Dispel your kids’ questions about transitions in their lives by sharing that some things will be different, and some things won’t. Let them know that together you can handle each circumstance along the way.
- Listen. Encourage your kid to share their feelings and rely on them. They may be feeling grief, failure, or frustration about aspects you may not have predicted.
Be patient. Kids may appear to “get it” one day and feel uncertain the next. Care for your child’s confusion or misunderstanding with patience.