If you’re going through a divorce, you know how difficult the situation is on you and your spouse, but what about the kids? While two happy homes are better than one miserable home, it can take a while for children to adjust to divorce, and helping children cope with divorce is key to everyone moving on for the better.
There is no way to make a divorce perfect, but to help your children of divorce, parents can do a few things:
- Tell the kids together. Do NOT make one parent tell—this is a bad way to alienate the kids from that parent, which is not okay.
- Set a clear and reliable custody schedule that kids can depend on.
- Remember that it’s not about your ex or you—it’s about helping those children of divorce have the same or similar lifestyle as they had before the divorce. Set your ego aside—money battles and drama harm kids.
- Allow kids to speak freely about the divorce.
- Keep new partners at bay until the kids grieve, and the person has proven over time, to be worth introducing to the kids.
- Spend special time with your kids as a group and one-on-one
- Buy special personalized dolls for kids needing a reminder of mom or dad while at the other’s house.
- Joining a hobby or class with an older child.
- Seeking family therapy.
Effects of Divorce On Children By Age
No matter how great parents are at co-parenting, the effects of divorce on children vary. Kids will respond differently depending on their personality, the way the family copes, and how old the children are. As you’re going through the divorce, you’ll even find that how you cope changes over time, and this will be the same for your kids. The angry teen may turn despondent. The clingy toddler may become quiet.
- Regress on potty training
- Bite or lash out physically
- Have trouble eating or sleeping
- Separation anxiety—especially as parents start to share custody during the divorce process
Have the same issues as toddlers, but with advanced verbal skills, may lash out verbally and most likely, won’t bite but might hit.
Elementary Aged May:
Have issues with eating and sleeping, as well as trouble in school either with schoolwork, peers, or both. Children at this age may also have accidents still.
Have all the same issues as their elementary aged-peers, except for they may rebel in ways that have more profound consequences. From drugs to sex or self-harming behaviors, watch the teen carefully as he or she processes the divorce. The bigger the kid, the higher the stakes.
Divorce effects everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. The best way to be a good parent during this tough time is to listen, put your needs aside when necessary, focus on the children, and do your best to keep a similar lifestyle to help kids adjust to this next stage in life.