What are the most successful ways of supporting children through divorce?

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Answered by: Carrie, An Expert in the Children and Divorce Category
Was it my fault? Are my parents mad at me? Will my parents still love me? Where will I live? These are just a few of the questions children often ask themselves when they learn that their parents are divorcing. They need the answers to these questions and support to get through a very undefining time. Everything they knew to be true has suddenly become shaky and uncertain. They lose trust in the two most important adults in their lives.

Supporting children through divorce is not only desired, it is essential. A child without the tools to cope with and understand divorce will undoubtedly turn the surrounding facts and circumstances inward. He will blame himself and develop self hate, often manifesting itself in undesirable behaviors. Ways of supporting children through divorce may include counseling, support groups and parents that remember to put the child's feelings first in all conversations regarding the opposite parent.

Finding the best counselor for your child or family is often a difficult task. Even though there are plenty of counselors to choose from it is important to feel a report with and confidence in who you choose. It can be costly and time consuming and you must always remember to listen to your child's impressions of the person. If they don't feel comfortable enough to open up and trust then the experience may be in vane.

Support groups for children can often times be found at the schools. Children need to know that they are not the only ones. A group of their peers sharing experiences and feelings can be very healing and rewarding to a child with a broken heart. Even though more and more children are faced with divorce, it is still not the expected norm for a child living with two parents believing it will always be that way. A support group with other children lets a child know that they are not odd or strange or weird for having parents that divorced. They realize other kids have two homes, have two sets of rules and may even learn ways to cope with upcoming step-parents.

Parents can support their children by remembering that no matter how they feel about their estranged spouse, their child loves that person very much. If they remember to only speak kindly about them and not involve the child in the feelings and dealings of the particulars involved, they will be honoring their child. They need to remind their child daily that both parents love him forever and that will never change. He needs to hear that it was not his fault and that nothing he could have done would have prevented the divorce. He needs to know that both parents will still be in his life and support and love him. Parents need to remember to explain the custody schedule and adhere to it so that the child knows what to expect at all times. The child will learn to feel secure in the schedule and feel that he has some control of his life again. A child would rather be from a broken home than to live in one.

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