The Things You Can Do to Minimize the Impact of a Divorce on Your Kids

School playDivorce is always hard on children, even if family life was difficult before the breakup. As a parent, you don’t want to do things that will only add to your child’s sense of loss and grief. Here are important things to do and to remember to help your children cope with the changes the come with divorce.

  • Make certain your kids know that the divorce had nothing to do with them—Often, your children will simply ask you why you are getting a divorce. The response can be complicated, but don’t dismiss their question with an evasive answer—they’ll only try to find the answer on their own (and often come up with the wrong answer). It’s best to clearly state that the problems were between you and your ex (no need to detail the problems) and that the divorce has nothing to do with them.
  • Remember that your children love your ex, too—The differences you have with your ex need to stay between you and your ex. You should never put your children in the position where they have to choose sides between you and your ex. They love your ex and you will put them in an extremely awkward position if you try to demean or belittle the other parent.
  • Work with your ex to be consistent in discipline and other matters—While you may have a different parenting style than your ex, try not to directly contradict what you ex does or says to them. As much as possible, keep the same sets of rules at both households. The more variations you have, the more stress you will put on your child.
  • Be willing to compromise for the sake of your children—When the stakes are small, don’t make them big. Be the one who is willing to cooperate with the other parent for the sake of the children. Be willing to switch weekends if it will benefit the kids and won’t dramatically alter your plans. Your willingness to cooperate will go a long way toward eliminating or minimizing the stress your children experience.
  • Co-parent when practicable and possible, but be willing to let the other parent make a decision if doing so makes sense—Kids feel stress when everything has to be decided by committee. When it’s in your child’s best interests to have both parents involved, participate cooperatively. But when a decision has to be made and discussion will only delay or aggravate the situation, be willing to let your ex decide.

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