What is the best strategy for helping children cope with divorce?

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Answered by: Laurie, An Expert in the Children and Divorce Category
Children are as affected by divorce as the adults involved. The difference is that the children do not have a choice in the matter. Feelings of hopelessness at the rapid changes around them will leave them isolated and depressed. There are some simple things that you can do to help children cope with divorce.

The age and maturity levels of children will determine how they cope with the news of an impending divorce and its aftermath. The amount of explanation that is given will depend on the child's age and maturity. The questions they ask you will depend on age and maturity levels as well.

Never discuss actual marital problems, or talk badly about your spouse to your children. They are a part of them; talking bad about them will make children feel bad about themselves. It is important to reassure them that you both still love them, and will do what is best for them throughout the process. Discussing the matters at hand with both parents present whenever possible is best.

While the best interest of the children is what you should keep in mind, it is important to keep their wishes in mind also. Teenagers are old enough to decide who they want to live with; letting it be their choice and not making them feel guilty or asking them to chose you over the other parent will make the transition easier.

Sometimes the choice will have more to do with what is familiar to them than picking one parent over the other. Make sure that you avoid making your child feel guilty if they decide to live with the other parent instead of you; simply make the best of the time that you have with them. Let them decide what you are doing from time to time so they feel as if they have some semblance of control over the things that are happening to them.

Helping children cope with divorce is more difficult if the reason was the abuse of you, your child or both. The most important thing here is to get your child help and allow them to feel secure. Make sure that your child knows they can discuss things with you, open communication will help them to understand during this confusing time. Allow them to continue having friends over, go out with friends and make time to spend alone with each parent so they knew they are not getting lost in the shuffle.

A journal so that your child can write down what they feel and discuss it with you when and if they decide to can aid in getting them past the emotions that come with divorce. Keeping a journal of your own, and/or going out with friends can give you support to ensure that you don’t blow up and take the stress and strain of divorcing out on your child.

When helping children cope with your divorce it is important to remember that while they have questions they are not equipped to deal with all of the emotional issues that go with divorce. It is your divorce, not theirs; they should never be put in the middle of matters that they did not create.

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