Divorce is difficult for children. They often struggle when their home life is upended, feeling sad, frustrated, angry and worried. Often, it takes months—sometimes years—for kids to adjust to a divorce. So, while you are most likely dealing with your own emotions about your divorce, don’t forget how it is impacting them too.
You can take several steps to help your kids cope with the divorce. These include the following:
- Keep conflict or heated discussions with your spouse and legal talk away from the children. Children need to feel safe and secure, so isolating them from any divorce conflict or potential legal ramifications is better for now.
- Keep up their daily routine. Children find structure in a consistent routine. If they are feeling overwhelmed with emotions about the divorce, keeping their routine consistent can help. It helps them know what to expect next and be ready for that.
- Confine negativity or blame to private therapy discussions or talks with friends outside the home. Your kids don’t need to hear you trashing their other parent. That won’t help them feel better or more secure.
- Keep both parents involved in the kids lives. Yes, you may want sole custody or a more favorable custody agreement for yourself, but you should let the child’s other parent stay involved. Having your child keep that bond to the other parent can lessen their uncertainty and sadness over the divorce.
If after a few months you still feel your child is struggling, don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling help. Signs they are possibly dealing with depression or anxiety because of the divorce include the following:
- Academic or behavioral problems
- Mood swings
- Lower self-esteem
- Socializing with friends less
- Less cooperative with everyday tasks
- Increase in irrational fears
- Lack of communication
You want your children to adjust to their new normal—that Mom and Dad are no longer married, but they are still deeply loved by them both. Keeping in mind their long-term interests, work hard toward having an amicable relationship with your former spouse. It will help smooth this transition and help you work more cooperatively as you parent your children.