How to Help Your Children Get Through Divorce: 3 Helpful Tips

By | 2017-10-03T17:19:09+00:00 September 30th, 2017|Co-Parenting, Divorce, Uncategorized, Wellness|0 Comments

Children are remarkably resilient, and are able to cope with a divorce  when they are provided with the tools to do so. Helping your kids foster those coping skills is easier than you may think, and simply takes some time, effort, and follow through. Here are a few ways you can help your children cope with a divorce:

  1. Make Sure They Understand What Divorce Means

Your child’s age greatly affects how you, as a parent, must discuss your separation or divorce with them. Studies show that a younger child’s emotional experience is very different than that of an older child, and therefore the information that is being conveyed may be understood in very different ways.

One study shows that  younger children are less able to comprehend the uncharted and stressful experience of a divorce, and therefore are often confused by the information. In this study, parents sat down to explain their impending separation or divorce with their children: 83% of children over age 12 reported being told about their parents’ divorce,  but only 52% of children under 10 years of age recalled being told about this same information[1]. As you can see,  the age of the child greatly determined the child’s depth of understanding.

  1. Explain How Divorce Will Affect Their Lives

Children do not experience divorce passively. As active members of your family, children feel that they deserve to know what is going on, and how a divorce will affect their lives. Although it is imperative to shield your children from the damaging details of your divorce, it is important to discuss and explain that a separation or divorce is taking place. In a study on children and divorce, nearly 57% of children reported that after learning about their parents’ divorce, nobody explained to them what the divorce would mean for their lives immediately, and in the future[2].  In discussing how divorce will affect their lives, you are giving your children an opportunity to ask questions, build support systems and begin to contemplate how to cope with these changes.

  1. Ask Your Children How They Feel

Many children feel that their emotional needs are overlooked during a divorce. Although it is helpful to explain what is happening during a divorce, it is equally as important to ask how your children feel and what their wishes are. In the same study on children and divorce, 67% of children indicated that they wished their parents had asked them how they felt about what was going on. The same study found that by asking children how they feel, you are allowing them to find some degree of cognitive control over the situation, which may help them regain a sense of control over their own lives. In contrast, by simply telling children what is going to happen, without allowing them to express their feelings, children often feel left out, increasing feelings of injustice and loss[3].

 

[1] Butler, I., Scanlan, L., Robinson, M., Douglas, G., & Murch, M. (2002). Children’s Involvement in their Parents’ Divorce: Implications for Practice. Children & Society , 16, 89-102. doi:10.1002/CHI.702

[2] Butler, I., Scanlan, L., Robinson, M., Douglas, G., & Murch, M. (2002). Children’s Involvement in their Parents’ Divorce: Implications for Practice. Children & Society , 16, 89-102. doi:10.1002/CHI.702

[3] Butler, I., Scanlan, L., Robinson, M., Douglas, G., & Murch, M. (2002). Children’s Involvement in their Parents’ Divorce: Implications for Practice. Children & Society , 16, 89-102. doi:10.1002/CHI.702

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