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Posted on November 04 2019


As a Family Mediator, I see over and over again how hard divorce or separation is on both parents and children. Each child responds differently and has different needs depending on their age and the circumstances. Yet, there are some consistently helpful things that parents can do for your children during this time.

Here are 7 ways to ease your child’s transition:

  1. Take the High Road: Speak positively about your co-parent. Avoid conflict, blaming each other, or speaking about legalities in your child’s presence. Parents should seek therapy and other private, supportive spaces to work through hard feelings towards each other.
  2. Break the News Thoughtfully: 1) If possible, break the news of separation together. 2) Reassure your child that the decision is not their fault. 3) Remind your child that parents and children don't stop loving each other and, unlike parents, they do not get divorced from each other. 4) Give the child logistical information to prepare them for the upcoming changes in their lives. 5) Try to answer their questions as truthfully and age appropriately as possible. 6) Expect your child to need time to process the news. Don’t forget that you may have been feeling grief and processing for years by this point.
  3. Make Space for your Child’s Experience: Children often suppress their feelings in fear of upsetting their parents or because they don’t know how to express themselves. 1) Remind children that their feelings are important and will be taken seriously. 2) If you notice that your child is having hard feelings or experiencing behavioral changes, help them put their feelings and experiences into words. For example, “I noticed that you were silent through dinner. It seems like you are feeling angry. Is that true? Do you know why you are angry?” 3) Listen and validate your child’s feelings without making it about you. “I hear that you miss your dad so much and that it is frustrating to be further away from your friends while you are at my house” 4) Offer support and suggestions. “Do you know what may help you feel better?” “Do you want to go outside and talk? Do you wan to set up a play date with a friend? Do you want to call your dad?.”
  4. Take Good Care of Yourself.Divorce or separation is a highly stressful chapter for everyone. Keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy can ensure that you'll be in the best possible shape to care for your children. You can get support through online resources, therapy, close friends, support groups, etc.
  5. Be as Consistent as Possible: Children, especially young children, thrive with consistency and routine. Keeping a routine can be comforting when so much else is changing. When possible, make any schedule adjustments (such as moving to a new home) gradually and with as much notice as possible.
  6. Do Not Put Your Child In the Middle: 1) Don’t allow fighting or arguments to leave a child feeling torn or needing to choose sides. 2) Don’t ask your child to make any decisions regarding whom they want to live with, what schedules they prefer, etc. 3) Communicate with your co-parent directly, not through your child. For example, even little things such as “Please tell your mom that you have soccer practice” and mom responding with “Why didn’t your dad tell me that directly” can leave the child feeling in the middle of a conflict.
  7. Maintain a Strong Presence in your Child’s Life: Especially during a divorce, children will benefit from one-on-one time with each parent. No matter how inconvenient, try to accommodate your ex-partner to be present in your child’s life.










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