Are you a parent who is having marital problems and now divorce is on the horizon? If so, not only do you have to deal with the court process, but you have to deal with your own emotions and your children’s emotions. It’s hard enough dealing with your own emotions, but having to help your children through a divorce takes things to a whole other level.
Each family’s situation is different. How your kids react to the divorce depends on a variety of factors, such as their age, their relationship with their other parent, what things were like at home, and how they feel about the split. For example, if your spouse has been very emotionally abusive toward you and your child, who is a teenager, he or she may be thrilled about the divorce.
On the other hand, if your child is eight or nine, and they thought life at home was wonderful and he or she is close to your spouse, they may be hit a lot harder by the breakup. So, the child’s age and relationship with the other parent are big factors.
How to Help Your Child Cope
If your child’s emotions are raw because of the breakup, or simply because of this big change in their life, there are some things you can do to help your child feel better about the situation. Here is some advice on how you can help your child during this major transition:
- Reassure your child that the divorce is NOT their fault. Children are in the habit of blaming themselves for their parents’ divorces.
- Keep things as stable as possible. If you have certain routines that you can keep, it will be helpful for your child to continue them.
- If possible, help keep your child distracted. This could mean going on walks with them, playing outside, taking them places (the places that will be a good distraction vary by age), and otherwise changing the environment so they can place their focus and attention elsewhere.
- Let your child lean on friends. This could mean having more playdates with friends (for younger children) or letting a teenager go out and do fun things with close, supportive friends.
- Let your child lean on close family members who will show them unconditional love and support.
- Consider a therapist. If you feel like you’re just not equipped to properly deal with your child’s emotions, a professional family counselor may be able to help.
- Shower your child with love and affection and spend extra time with them.