Divorce isn’t easy for anyone, but kids & teens can take it particularly hard. Many children don’t understand what is happening and many more feel the divorce is somehow their fault.
Here’s how you can help your child cope:
1. Communicate Openly
The divorce should be explained in simple and straightforward terms. If at all possible, both parents should be part of the conversation. Your language should be tailored to the age of your children as well. for example with children saying something like, “We have been yelling at each other a lot and everyone is feeling unhappy. So we have decided to live in different houses. But we love you very much and we will both take care of you still.” Be more straightforward, but also loving and compassionate, with tween & teens. Let them ask questions and express how it impacts them and how they feel.
2. Keep Things Predictable
Children & teens do best when their environments are familiar and predictable. Do your best to provide the structure and routine your children have become used to.
3. Explain How Things Will Work
Many children & teens will panic at the news, they will not understand how both parents will remain in their lives. So clearly explain how things will work going forward. You may also want to work on creating a calendar together so they have something to refer to.
4. Never Speak Badly About Your Ex
Your ex may have caused you a lot of emotional pain in your relationship, but to your children, they are mom or dad. Never speak unkindly about your child’s other parent.
5. Encourage Your Children to Speak Honestly About Their Emotions
They will sense that YOU are dealing with a lot of emotions, and, wanting to protect you, he or she will keep their emotions to themselves. It’s important that you encourage them to talk to you candidly about how they are feeling. Let them know they can come to you at any time and talk to you whether they are scared, sad, or angry.
6. Seek Guidance
Everyone’s situation is different – and all children are different. Some may take the news better than others. You may find that your child is suffering more than you originally expected. If this happens, it may be a good idea to seek help from a trained therapist, who can give all of you helpful coping tools.