- When children first find out that their parents are getting a divorce they may wonder what will happen to them. Once a parent has left, they may wonder if the other parent will leave them, too. They need immediate reassurance that they will be cared for by a responsible parent.
Honest age appropriate information
- Children can deal with what they know better than with what they don’t know. Remember to phrase the negative in a simple way kids can understand. Example: “Your mom and I won’t live in the same house together anymore because we are not going to be married anymore. Our family will be different now, but we love you and will take good care of you.” Make sure to inform them of exactly what will happen with the new changes in their lives. Example: “Dad will pick you up from school today, and he will bring you back home this evening.”
To know it is not their fault
- It is a natural tendency for children to begin to blame themselves for the divorce in their family. Children may feel guilty and like they did something to cause the divorce. They should be told up front that they in no way caused the divorce.
Parents to act civil toward each other
- Parents need to act civil toward each other. Anger and hostility are normal reactions for adults and children when going through a divorce. However, it is in the best interest of the child to not “bad mouth” the other parent.
Parents to get the help they need
- Children need their parents to get help. The healthier parents can become the healthier the children can become. Seek counseling.
- Provide as much of a normal consistent routine as possible. With so many changes happening in their lives, children of divorce need to have their daily routines stay intact as much as possible.
- Children of divorce need to be able to talk with someone besides their parents. Being put in the middle of their parents’ divorce is hard for a child. They need to be able to vent about their situation and know that they will not hurt mom or dad by what they are saying. Find a counselor or support group for your child. Make sure teachers know what’s going on in your family.
- Children struggle with the death of their parent’s marriage and the family structure as they knew it. Children will grieve this loss producing stress, fears, and worries. Your extra expressions of love can go a long way in helping them cope.
- Children will more than likely become angry at you, their siblings, and/or other family members. Grades may begin to drop. Defiance may become an issue. Remember, they are hurting. Allow them to hurt. Help them learn to channel their anger by exercising, journaling, listening to music and getting physical exercise.
- When families go through a divorce, children can feel especially sad and lonely. They need to be encouraged, and they need to be able to have some fun. Even in the midst of the turmoil, try to find something kids enjoy doing and do it with them!