Roughly 50% of all children in the United States will see their parents divorce (keeping in mind that many divorced households have multiple children). If you’re a parent who’s helping their child through a divorce, you’re not alone.
Kids and divorce are a bad combination. There’s no best age for divorce when it comes to children, and even adult children can struggle with it.
We’re here to talk about children and divorce and how you can help them through the process. Read on to learn more.
1. Show Them Stories and Television Shows They Can Relate To
Young children may struggle with the idea of divorce, especially if they don’t yet have any friends with divorced parents. If they’re too young to understand an adult conversation, use books and other forms of media to help them.
Sesame Street, for example, provides helpful resources for children and parents alike. They use their friendly-looking characters to break down difficult concepts in simple ways.
These characters may help children feel like they’re not alone, and seeing the characters respond well to divorce will inform their own behavior.
2. Explain the Situation (Within Reason)
Even if your child is young, it’s important to explain the situation at a level that they can understand. This will vary depending on their age.
Explain that the divorce has nothing to do with them. Don’t use this time to talk badly about the other parent. Even if things didn’t end amicably, it’s unfair to try to turn a child against a loved family member.
Let your child ask questions and try to provide honest answers.
3. Validate Their Feelings
Young children aren’t yet capable of emotional control, or even understanding their own emotions. Make sure that you listen to your child and validate their emotions.
Encourage your child to express themself with art, writing, and play. Let them know that their feelings are normal, but teach them coping mechanisms that will help them get through them.
4. Spend Quality Time With Them
As a Dad Starting Over, you suddenly have a lot more responsibility. You’re likely working with less income, you’re adjusting to being a single parent, and you’re going through your own emotional struggles. It can be hard to find time to connect with your kids, but you have to make an effort.
Both parents should be striving to spend quality time with their children. Don’t try to “out-do” the other parent by planning a complex vacation, but do some fun activities both in and out of the house.
Spend a day at a museum, do some arts and crafts, or play a few games. These might seem like small things, but they’ll help your child adjust to their new situation.
5. Expand Their Support Network
Your child needs more than just you and the other parent. Consider setting up playgroups with other local children, giving them a counselor, and talking to their teachers about the situation.
You want to provide as much support as possible while your child is going through this difficult transition.
Kids and Divorce: It’s Never Easy
Learning “how to help my kids through a divorce” is a challenge, and it’s going to be a trial and error process. Children all respond to divorce in different ways.
The most important thing is that you pay attention to your child’s needs and emotions. They’ll get through this, but they need your help!
For more helpful articles about kids and divorce (and more), visit the rest of our site.