Helping a Child Cope with Divorce

It is a well-known fact that divorce is an extremely stressful event in most people’s lives. It is understood as well that this event may be even more difficult for children. How any one child will deal with it will be based on their age, maturity level, personality, and the history of their particular family. When first discovering that their parents are going to separate, children’s reactions can range from shock and disbelief to grief, anger, and anxiety. Helping your child cope with the reality of divorce and the emotions that will likely overwhelm them is of utmost importance for parents. This is an aspect of the whole experience that requires parents to rise above their own feelings and work in concert to give their children the support they need at this critical time. In order to do this, it helps to have some basic guidelines for accomplishing this.

Basic Guidelines

Most child psychologists emphasize that parents should not engage in legal discussions in front of their children just as they should refrain from visible heated bouts of hostility and rant against one another. Laying blame on the other parent around children should also always be avoided despite your own personal feelings on the matter. Blaming your spouse for the breakdown of your marriage puts negativity about a beloved parent in the mind of the child. It can also put a child in the position of possibly having to choose between you and the other parent. A child should never be put in that position. Your upset and any negative feelings about your spouse should be confined to the ears only of other adults such as friends, family, or professionals in private conversations.

Other basic rules include ensuring that a child’s daily routine is maintained as much as possible so that the child continues to have stability. Both parents should continue to play an active role in the child’s life. This should include participation on the part of both parents at such events as sporting events, school plays, or other activities. Above all, parents should shower their children with love and emotional support throughout this challenging time.

The Initial Conversation

Sitting down with your child to explain that divorce is going to happen will likely be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have. It is often easier for younger children who will not have the same depth of understanding as a pre-teen or a teen. It is recommended that you and your spouse do this together in a calm manner and in a way that is appropriate for the age of the child. Give them factual information as well as a basic understanding of the fact that people can drift apart or fall out of agreement. Factual information can include where they will live, who will be responsible for taking them to school, and other information about how the separation will physically affect them.

Emphasize That It is Not Their Faults

One of the most important rules is to ensure that your child does not think that the divorce is because of anything that he or she has done. Kids tend to blame themselves and think it is their fault. Parents must actively overcome this by telling their kids that what has happened is strictly between themselves, that the child has not done anything to cause it, and to keep reinforcing this idea as much as is needed.

The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C.

Divorce is almost never easy and every family will face its own difficult circumstances in this matter. However, it is important for parents to take the lead when it comes to dealing with the emotional fallout of divorce by acting in the best interests of the child. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., we understand the difficulties you may be facing; we deal with divorce on a routine basis and provide comprehensive legal services, including mediation and collaborative law, to ensure you have every available method for easing the way through this life-changing process.

Contact us at (312) 487-2795 to arrange to speak with a Chicago attorney about your case today.