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The Effect of Divorce on Kids

By Sheryl Rentz on July 31, 2017

black and white photo of little boy

According to ABC6 Action News, more than one million children in the United States are affected by divorce or separation every year. As divorce becomes an increasingly common issue, more research is being done on how to effectively transition children through this conflict.

Many parents worry about how to support their children, while helping them understand what is going to happen. Read below for proven strategies on how to help children cope with divorce.

Have an Open Line of Communication

As a parent, you may think it best to shelter your children from the majority of the divorce process so as not to overwhelm or confuse them. However, as with many other aspects of child rearing, maintaining an open line of communication is essential to helping a child cope with divorce. Make it a point to create age-appropriate dialogue about what is happening. In addition, try to answer your children’s questions as honestly as possible. The more a child feels he understands the divorce and why it is happening, the less afraid he will be.

Develop a Routine

Children thrive on routine, especially during trauma. In the early stages of a divorce and separation, work out and stick to a plan for where your children will be. (You may already have custody and other arrangements worked out in a prenuptial agreement.) It’s important that your children know where they are sleeping each night of the week, who is picking them up from soccer practice, and that family traditions and rituals are still valued.

Keep It Civil

Yes, it’s easier said than done, but regardless of the details of your divorce and the ugliness it might entail, keeping things civil with your spouse will result in happier and healthier kids. A June 2017 study showed that parents who had separated but stayed in touch as their children grew had healthier children compared to parents who separated and did not speak for years. It is possible to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship, even after a marriage has dissolved.

Encourage an Emotional Outlet

Whether it’s sports, art, or music, children can better manage their emotions when they have a positive outlet to express their feelings. Extracurricular activities can also introduce them to other kids and expand their perspective. Perhaps they will meet another child who has divorced parents, or they will learn to voice their concerns because they play on a team. Involving your children in activities they enjoy and which challenge them is a great indirect way to help them through the divorce.

In the end, the most important thing is that you continue to love, support, and consider your child in your day-to-day life, as you did before the divorce. It can be easy to get wrapped up in your own emotions throughout the process, so keep your children close to your heart.

Custody questions? Speak to a family law attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Call (610) 645-0100 for a free consultation.

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