Act deliberately to help children cope with divorce

Divorce can happen. It can happen to couples who have been married for more than 20 years, and it can happen to those who said “I do” just a few years ago. And while in most cases spouses know that separating is the best thing for them to do, in relationships where there are children, many parents tend to worry about how the children will be affected by the divorce.

If you are a parent who is either going through a divorce, or was recently divorced, rest assured knowing that studies have shown children can cope just fine with divorce, as long as their parents make sure to not fight in front of them before, during and after the marriage.

But what exactly does it mean to not fight? Quite often parents assume that just being verbally nice to one another is good enough. However, keep in mind that children are very impressionable, and learn how to act based off of how their parents behave. This means that while speaking neutrally to one another is good, you also need to pay attention to your nonverbal communications, like the gestures and body language that you are using.

Additionally, when it comes to children, also realize that your kids may think that the divorce is about them. For example, when a child is very young, he or she is at the center of their world. This can in turn mean that a child feels somehow responsible for their parents’ divorce. However, when it comes to teenagers, while they may not feel as responsible as a child who’s in preschool, teens still have their own concerns on how the divorce is going to affect them. Will they have to move? What about their friends? Does this mean allowance is going to be cut?

Fortunately, the good news is that parents can take very deliberate steps to talk age-appropriately to their children about the divorce, and can be mindful of their communications — both verbal and nonverbal — to help the divorce process run more smoothly for their children.

Source: Huffington Post, “The Kids’ Will Be Just Fine And Other Divorce Myths,” Claire N. Barnes, Feb. 3, 2012

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