Jane-Ashley McMillan, Attorney at Law

What can you do to help your children cope with your divorce?

Choosing to divorce is a decision that two adults make, but the effects reach the entire family. You can’t avoid the issue with your children forever—and it might be tough on them when you do tell them.

You should be prepared to help them through the process. Knowing what to expect and how to support your children can help make everything go more smoothly for your family.

Different age groups react to divorce in unique ways

Depending on how old your children are, you can plan for certain reactions. Not every child will be the same—but there are some trends among certain ages.

Young children might not understand why they now have to go between two homes or how people can stop loving each other. They may think that if you stopped loving their other parent, that you will stop loving them as well. At grade school age, your children might also think that the entire situation is their fault.

If any of your children are teenagers when you separate, you are more likely to see anger and blame than confusion and fear. Teens usually have a bit more control over their lives than younger children—so they may react even more negatively when divorce takes that away from them.

How can you ease the burden on your family?

All of these possible outcomes might be making you nervous about your children’s reaction to your divorce. It will probably be tough—but there are ways to help everyone through it. You should:

  • Keep fights with your ex separate from your children
  • Not talk badly to your children about your ex—and don’t encourage them to do it either
  • Make sure they know that they can share their feelings with you whenever they want to
  • Give your children time to process—never rush them or try to make them hide their feelings

You may not be able to completely eliminate the stress of divorce for your children. They will have to process their emotions in their own way. But being prepared for the different feelings that might come up may ease the burden for everyone.

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