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Helping kids over the hurdle of divorce

There is much uncertainty in the world at large right now. That makes it even more important to have a stable home for your children. But if you are planning a divorce, it could be another destabilizing influence in the lives of your children.

No good parent wants to further upset their kids’ lives. But when relationships become untenable, you need to develop an exit strategy that takes into consideration the effect of the divorce on the children. Below is some advice from the Mayo Clinic about helping your kids accept the divorce.

Whenever possible, break the news together

This can prevent shoot-the-messenger syndrome, or at least level the playing field. But more importantly, it provides an opportunity for both parents to assure the children that they are loved and will be cared for regardless of the split.

Keep explanations age-appropriate

Small children have no understanding of the private nuances of the marriage. It’s neither wise nor appropriate to delve into the reasons for the divorce when talking with them. But it’s also not a good idea to say that you no longer love one another, as the kids may think that could one day apply to them.

Give them the opportunity to vent

Encourage them to express their feelings openly about the divorce. Some kids may have an outburst while others may shut down completely and internalize their feelings. Neither reaction is right or wrong, so allow them to feel as they do without censure.

Call in the professionals when necessary

Anger, regression and acting out are all normal reactions of children whose parents are divorcing. There is an entire spectrum of behaviors they may exhibit, with some more worrisome than others. If you have concerns about the ability of your child to adapt to the divorce, you may want to seek a counselor to help them over the roughest spots. Your child’s pediatrician and your family law attorney might have some suggestions for referrals to a counselor.