Easing the process of divorce: 4 tips for helping children cope

Parents can make divorce less traumatic for kids by breaking the news thoughtfully, reducing strife, planning ahead carefully and avoiding needless change.

For many parents in Apple Valley, making the decision to divorce can be incredibly difficult due to the potential negative effects of divorce on children. Many parents dread telling their kids about the separation and worry about the long-term impacts that it may have. However, parents should remember that several measures can make divorce less traumatic for kids. Taking the following four steps may especially help parents make this process more manageable for their children.

1. Break the news appropriately

Psychology Today recommends that parents take time to carefully plan how and when they will inform their children of the divorce. This news can be a shock, so parents should pick a safe setting and take a mature approach. It is ideal for parents to break the news together, if feasible, and avoid blaming each other when doing so.

Parents should also avoid the common pitfall of telling children about the divorce at different times. Some parents attempt to spare younger or less mature children from the pain of divorce by delaying telling them about it. However, younger children may resent receiving the news later than their siblings, while older children may feel that they were unfairly forced to keep the divorce secret.

2. Create solid plans

Once children learn about the divorce, they will have questions and concerns about how it will change their lives. Consequently, the American Psychological Association advises parents to work together to create a parenting plan before breaking the news. Parents should discuss issues such as where each person will live and how the children will split their time between households. Parents should also be ready to tell their children how the divorce will affect other parts of their lives, such as the school they attend.

3. Reduce parental conflict

Unfortunately, even when parents are completing an uncontested divorce, some degree of conflict is inevitable. Parents should remember that open disagreements and fights can cause children significant stress, which makes limiting them crucial. According to Today's Parent, there are several steps that parents can take to avoid conflict, including:

  • Communicating and making plans in writing, which can clear up misunderstandings and head off fights;
  • Keeping face-to-face interactions to a minimum to avoid needless conflict; and
  • Demonstrating respect for the other parent's privacy and time with the children.

Additionally, parents should always avoid putting children in the middle of conflict by using them to deliver messages to the other parent or asking them to take sides.

4. Avoid unnecessary changes

Today's Parent notes that consistent, predictable routines are important for children, and as a result, the upheaval of divorce can be especially difficult for children to handle. Before the divorce is finalized, parents should reassure their children about the aspects of their lives that will not change. After the divorce, maintaining regular routines and steady contact with both parents can help reduce feelings of instability or stress.

Many people see divorce as a fresh start and wish to make significant life changes afterward. However, parents should minimize unnecessary changes, such as moving to another city, whenever possible. If substantial changes cannot be avoided, parents should give children early warning and adequate time to adjust, according to the APA.

Planning for life post-divorce

Completing a divorce while keeping sight of a child's best interests can be difficult. For assistance identifying a working parenting arrangement and navigating the divorce process, parents may want to consider partnering with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help a parent explore options for completing the divorce more amicably and crafting a successful post-divorce parenting arrangement.