After Divorce – How To Help The Kids

The biggest worry for divorcing parents is often how the divorce will affect the kids.

The very most important thing parents can do after a divorce is continue to be parents to their children. Children will take the lead from parents who are consistent, kind, and calming. Although the pain of divorce is felt most strongly, the recovery time need not be prolonged and children often can adapt in the right environment.

Parents should be mindful of the need for consistency in the child's life. For the custodial parent, it is important not to over or under-parent the child.

For babies, the impact of divorce is indirect. Divorce for a baby can be felt in two extremes. They are often neglected because of the emotional turmoil of the divorce on their parents; at other times, they are smothered because of the neediness of the parent (usually the mother) during the divorce process. Both the extremes should be avoided.

Divorce can create much fear and confusion. If at all possible, parents should tell their children about the divorce together. Admit to the child that the parents are sorry but they are no longer happy together. Also express feeling unhappy about the divorce so the children will feel less isolated in their sadness. Explain the situation to them in concepts they can understand

These children will feel sad. Easing the pain of divorce for them is very difficult. But there are some common sense strategies to help. Some experts suggest that children in the age group between 3 and 6 be told 2 or 3 weeks before the expected separation. But this may not be realistic given how divorce occurs. Since this is a particularly difficult stage, children really do not want the divorce under any circumstances, so do not spend a lot of time trying to make the children feel better. Just reassure them that they will be loved and cared for by both parents and move quickly toward setting up separate, consistent, households.

Slightly older children above 6 are at the stage where they are just developing their morality and start to see things in black and white. They may react with righteous anger when confronted with behavior in their parents that they perceive is hypocritical. Kids of this age don't take the divorce laying down, they will be angry and will let you know it.

Most of this extreme reaction will be gone within a year. But it is important for parents to address certain issues so that they do not hang on and create problems for the child later in life. Defusing the anger the child has toward the parent he/she holds responsible for the divorce is extremely important. While it is important to be honest, trashing the other parent or engaging the child as an ally against the other parent is wrong. It may not only prevent the child from moving on, it may backfire on the parent who has poisoned his mind against the other parent.

The most important factor in facilitating a good transition for children of divorce no matter what the age, is the ability of the divorcing parents to get along. Children who have parents who are respectful of one another will do much better than those who have resentful, feuding parents undermining each other.

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