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Going Through A Divorce? 6 Ways to Support Your Children

How parents can decrease the stress their children feel during and after a split
Supporting your children through divorce

I have spent a significant amount of time working with families who are going through a divorce, most recently with two families, in particular, going through the process.

Two Divorce Examples, Two Different Outcomes

The parents in the first family spoke to each other, didn't talk about the other parent in front of the children, worked together to be sure both parents had quality time with the children and communicated with each other.

In the second family, the parents would not speak to each other and told the children negatives about the other parent in hopes of winning their children's allegiance. Messages about visitations, pick up times, and changes in plans were sent from one parent to the other through the children.

It is probably no surprise that the children of the first family experienced less stress, fewer problems in school, and less behavioral problems. I spent significantly more time working with the parents and children of the second family. The children of that family exhibited anxiety, depression, and ongoing behavioral problems.

Your ex is not your child's ex

The above quote is so true. The biggest problem I see is when parents cannot get along for the sake of the children. When parents are divorcing the children have not asked for the parents to separate. The divorce situation is highly stressful for the children. The children are part of Mom and part of Dad. Whatever the parents can do to make the process the least stressful for the children, the more well-adjusted the children will be during and at the end of the separation process.

Here are six ways to help children have minimal stress during this painful time:

1. Do not talk about adult business in front of the children. This involves anything legal or anything negative about the other parent. Remember the child loves both parents.

2. Communicate with the other parent. Do not attempt to send messages or arrange schedules through the child. If you can't verbally talk to the other parent use texts or emails.

3. Talk to your child about his or her feelings about the divorce. If this is too difficult for you, find someone else for the child to talk to.

4. Make attempts to involve the other parent in the child's life as much as possible.

5. The best thing you can do for the children is to call a truce with your ex, even if it is only around the children's issues. This will help to minimize the trauma of divorce.

6. If all of this seems too difficult for you, seek professional support.

For more support, join our empathetic community, chat with a free, trained listener, or start affordable online therapy today.


Posted: 21 March 2019
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Melissa Muller, LMHC

Melissa is a licensed mental health counselor and supervisor in the state of Florida.

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