Kids & Divorce

The divorce process can be a trying, difficult one for even the strongest adult. The legalities and feelings involved are often confusing and hard to understand. As an adult, you may realize and be prepared for the issues that are forthcoming.  For children, the challenges and emotions involved when parents divorce are much more difficult.

When parents divorce, it is sometimes hard for the child or children involved to adjust to the new way of life. The unity of the family, though it may not have been happy, no longer exists and the child may mourn the loss of the parent who is no longer residing in the home.

The stress placed on a child during the divorce may actually be more than that of the adult, especially if the parents dispute custody. He or she may feel as if they are being asked to "choose" a parent and will lose the other in the process.

There are many ways in which a parent can help make their divorce an easier process for the child or children involved. Though it may be a stressful time for everyone, realize that children don't always accept situations and need patience and understanding from both parents to cope with the divorce.

You should always keep your child informed about what is going on. You may think involving a child in the legalities of divorce may be confusing, especially if the child is very young. However, open and honest communication with your child during this time period can actually make this long process an easier one. Defensive feelings by the child toward one or both parents are not uncommon, try to remain sensitive to your child's needs and help him or her understand that the divorce was not his or her fault.  Don't "bad mouth" your spouse in front of your child.

Changes in roles and routine will certainly affect daily life and the adjustment process may take time and understanding from both you and your child. Be sure the child understands his or her role in the new lifestyle, and what, if anything is going to change. Will he or she spend weekends with one parent and weekdays with the other?  Be responsible for chores around the house?  It is important for the child to know and understand these changes. Facing too many, though, in a short period of time may be detrimental and cause angry feelings. A gradual introduction to new rules and ways may be more successful. Be careful, however, not to use your child as a replacement for the ex-spouse in household chores and duties.

Don't place unneeded financial concerns on your child by discussing money problems with him or her. A divorce can be costly, but only explain changes in the budget to your child that may directly affect him or her. At the same time, make sure you do not keep your child in the dark about money issues altogether, especially if it may interrupt a certain activity to which he or she has become accustomed.

Try to understand that although the divorce may be a difficult time for you, it is also a difficult time for your child. Encourage your child to talk about issues or concerns that may be on his or her mind. Counseling for your child may provide an outlet to discuss feelings or fears they may have about the divorce. Talking may reduce the stress everyone is feeling, and help the child understand and accept the divorce.