How to Minimize the Impact of Divorce on Children

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, divorce will impact your child – this is, unfortunately, an inevitable fact of the process. Its turbulence is something that both you, your ex, and your child will deal with every day for a while.

However, there are things you can do to help minimize any negative impact on your children. It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom! The important thing is to focus on your little person as much as possible through the process and always do the best thing for them.

Here are 6 ways to make this difficult time easier for the children you share:

  1. Work with Your Ex, Not Against

Achieving an effective co-parenting method is very important to minimize the negative effects of divorce on your child. One of the best ways to do this is through shared parenting, where you work with your ex to create a consistent pattern of authority. For instance, you should agree on methods of discipline and treats so the child doesn’t see one of you as ‘good cop’ and the other as ‘bad’. When both parents each establish a foundation of healthy support and for their kid, this will tend to result in the most positive outcomes.

  1. Emphasize Your Love

During these uncertain times, it is important to reassure your child of your love for them – and crucially, that the situation is in no way their fault. Depending on the stage of life that they are in, they might not outwardly appear to need this reassurance, but continuing to show your love through nonverbal cues and routine shared activities can help grow and maintain your bond.

  1. Focus on Your Parent-Child Relationship

This is a time when your child needs you most – make sure you’re devoting time to them individually, especially if you have more than one child. One-on-one time is necessary to allow them space to express any worries. Listen to them without judging, encourage positive behavior, allow them to have their space when needed, and let them know that you understand their feelings.

Be sure to reward them for being ‘grown up’ about the situation and make them feel loved by doing fun things together – swimming, going to the playground, getting ice cream. This could take both of your minds off tough subjects for a while!

  1. Manage Your Emotions

While you shouldn’t necessarily hide your emotions from your kid, you need to master the art of managing your stronger emotions (namely anger) about your split so that your children can follow your example of healthy conflict control. That means, they should never hear an argument, cussing or shouting between you.

If the tension is really high, simply limit your contact with your ex-partner to planned meetings where you only discuss matters that pertain to the divorce and your child and nothing else.

  1. Establish Expectations

If you are working with your ex-partner on joint parenting, then these should be shared expectations that you both have for your kid. This includes making sure that they feel safe and comfortable contacting either one of you, even in the presence of the other parent.

This could also pertain to simply keeping up a similar routine for your child so that they know that not everything has to change. Consistency is an important factor to have for everyone, and it can be a comfort during times like this where inter-personal relationships are changing so drastically.

  1. Let Them Ask Questions

When going through a divorce, your children should know that they are free to ask questions. This time is tough on both of you, and while it may be difficult to talk about, the honesty and vulnerability may help strengthen your bond in the end. One thing to keep in mind is the age and understanding of your children, as this could play a part in how in depth you go and how much they will really understand.

When you use this time to open up, listen to them in return and encourage open talk about thoughts and feelings. Communication is key here. Remember that they will likely be very confused by the situation, so being open and honest (without bad-mouthing your ex-partner) will help them understand better.

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