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How can I help my children during my divorce?

Everyone handles divorce differently, but for most people, breaking up with a spouse is an emotional and difficult time of transition. It's important if you're a parent to not allow the difficulty of the experience - no matter how emotional or contentious it happens to be - to interfere with your ability to support your children through the divorce.

Here is something you can do to ensure that your children are well-supported throughout your divorce proceedings:

Expect your kids to get upset

When you're going through a divorce, the best course of action is to do everything you can to give your children the emotional support they need. However, you may also want to expect the worst to some degree. This will help you deal with the "worst" should your children react in negative ways.

Essentially, parents need to remember that most children recover and adjust well following a divorce when given time and space to heal, and children don't have the same kinds of coping mechanisms to deal with difficult situations that adults have. In fact, you and your spouse's divorce could be the most difficult thing your child has ever had to face. This means your children could react negatively toward either you or your spouse. Your child could even be upset with you and blame you for divorce.

Whatever your child's reaction, it's important that you be patient with him or her and not judge that reaction. Let your children express their feelings and do your best to help them, support them and give them the space they need. Whatever your child's reaction, it will most likely be temporary.

Conclude your divorce process as respectfully as possible

When you can divorce respectfully from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it will also help to support your children to process and heal their emotions following your breakup. As such, parents and their families are well-served when they can reach an amicable out-of-court divorce settlement quickly and effectively.

Source: Psychology Today, "Divorce and Children," Mark Banschick M.D., accessed April 12, 2018

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