5 Ways to Help your Children through Divorce

Mom with sad daughter

The decision to divorce may be based on many things. Certainly, one of those things is your feelings for your spouse, but the feelings of your children during divorce are going to be a factor as well.

Sometimes, when you are fighting with your spouse, you become focused on your feelings and your feelings only. You try to keep the kids protected by smiling and keeping the routine the same. But kids are smart and sensitive to changes in mood. They can sense that something has changed in their house.

No matter what a child’s age, how you handle the decision to divorce will affect their lives. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can attempt to move more smoothly through the very difficult emotions and issues that are bound to arise from a divorce:

1.   Don’t involve the kids in your arguments – When you are in the middle of an argument with your spouse, keep it to yourselves. Children caught up in their parents’ disagreements often feel responsible and believe they are the reason for the problem and, ultimately, the divorce. Take a minute to calm down and regroup. Discuss your problems in private, out of earshot of the kids. Table any discussion of divorce until you can be alone. When disagreements involve day-to-day childcare and household routines, agree to disagree and come up with a resolution in private.

2. Talk to your kids honestly with age appropriate language. If your children are teenagers, tell it to them straight. They don’t need to hear the details of the divorce, but give them the basic facts about what is going on. For younger kids, you can tell them that mommy and daddy are not going to be living in the same house anymore but that each home will be their home, too.

3.  Reassure your kids that they did not cause the divorce – One of the first things that come to a child’s mind is that they did something to cause the divorce. Children have an incredible sense that they are the center of a marriage and believe things they do or say can cause a marriage to crumble. Confirm with them that your decision has nothing to do with them or their behavior, and that your feelings for them have not changed. Let your children know in no uncertain terms that they did not cause the divorce and they can do nothing to fix things either. This takes a lot of pressure off your kids in many ways.

4.  Involve your kids in the new arrangements – If you think divorce has brought a whirlwind into your life, think about your children. They may feel like they have been sucked up by a tornado with no control over where they might land. Help them to come to terms with the decision by involving them in the changes that are to come. If you are the spouse that is moving out, take them apartment hunting so they can see that you are planning room for them in your home. If new schools are an issue, be sure to visit the schools and meet the teachers and principal.

5.   Seek counseling for your kids – Don’t go it alone or think you can answer all the questions your kids ask. You and your spouse may have gone through marriage counseling and perhaps feel it didn’t work because you are still getting a divorce. However, when it comes to your children, you are looking at long-term care. After all, you are responsible for your child’s emotional as well as physical health. Consider the fact that your children may not be sharing all their feelings with you, even when asked. Many children have deep-seated feelings that are best resolved with a professional third party. There are too many cases of divorced parents believing their children are “fine” only to discover years later that they were just burying hurt that surfaced later in painful acting-out. Your kids are worth this investment.

Children are resilient, but they need your help. Let your kids know that they will always be taken care of and that you both love them equally. Don’t involve them in your daily squabbles, but do involve them in your daily decisions. In other words, be the adults and surround your kids with love and security.

 

Please let me know your thoughts in the Comments Section below.

Comments

  1. I’ve been seperated for years, never got around to divorcing… yet. It’s right what you say about the kids. They need that extra reassurance and counselling gives them an opportunity to address issues they won’t come to you about – no matter how close you are.

  2. Fortunately had no children to consider when I went through my divorce. I am sure it makes things more difficult.

  3. Nancy, Great information. I understand how sometimes divorce is unavoidable but it always saddens me to see the effect it has on the children. I was fortunate to have never experience divorce growing up but I have always had people in my life that have either experienced it as a child or in their own relationship. These pointers may not take away all the pain of a family break up but they definitely will help the children transistion throught the change and feel love the entire time! Awesome article!

  4. My parents divorced when we were teenagers and it was ugly! Over 30 years later and it is still not resolved. Divorce seems to damage a family no matter the age if the parents don’t have a healthy plan to get it done without a lifetime of hurt and pain. Great suggestions for kids especially your idea about “parents not involving kids in the arguments. Thanks. Best Regards, Wendy {UBC}

  5. I know this must be so confusing for children. Great suggestions.