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5 Tips to Help Children Cope with Divorce


When Mom gets divorced, her child's world changes, too. Divorce is difficult for kids. They don't understand. Children often feel responsible, like they did something wrong to cause the rift between parents. As challenging as the court proceedings are for you, always put your child's best interests first. The judge and child custody evaluator will notice your good parenting.

Tips to Help Kids Cope with Divorce

The friendliest, quickest divorce can still put tremendous pressure on a child. Imagine what a bitter divorce or contested child custody case might do! We can't protect our children from everything, but we can take steps to make things a lot better and help children adjust to life after divorce. Here's how you can support your child's mental and physical well-being before, during, and after the divorce.

1. Reduce Conflict

Heightened conflict is a contributing factor to parental alienation with the potential for serious harm to the child. Do everything possible to make your divorce less contentious. This doesn't mean you should just give-in and get it over with. It means have a plan, set short-term and long-term goals, and hire a child custody lawyer with the experience necessary to get you there. 

Family law cases typically involve some alternative dispute resolution, mediation, or family counseling process to assist parties in reaching agreement on property division, spousal support, custody, and so on. By taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), you can reduce the need for litigation, avoid delays, and save on the cost of your divorce.

2. Improve Your Parenting Time Skills

There are plenty of parenting time recommendations to follow, such as: DO be flexible with parenting time. DON'T talk about the divorce where your child can overhear or observe. DO keep a parenting time journal so you can discuss concerns and behavioral patterns with your family lawyer. DO make it easy for your child to communicate with the other parent by phone, text, email, video, or Zoom.

Children do not have the coping skills that adults have. Even teenagers need continual emotional support. By reducing your child's stress level, you can improve school attendance, cut down on doctor visits, and have a happier, healthier child. 

3. Build Your Child's Confidence

Reassure, reassure, reassure! Your child needs to know everything is OK. That the break-up was not your child's fault. Reinforce how "We both love you very much!" Do not criticize the other parent. Badmouthing is damaging, will not reassure your child, and is something the child custody evaluator will spot. 

Help build your child's confidence. For instance, keep doing things as a family (so long as this won't devolve into a match between you and your spouse). Join for a picnic at the park. Meet at the movies on Saturday afternoon. If there is a risk of domestic violence, then don't meet face-to-face or do so only with supervision. 

4. Take Co-Parenting to Heart

Co-parenting means both parents stay actively involved in the child's life. On those specials days with both parents present, be on your best behavior. Don't steal your child's "Happy Birthday" thunder. Don't let your ex get to you either. Be the Super Mom you are! 

5. Make Change as Easy as Possible

Your child will probably be living at a new residence (perhaps two if the marital home is sold as part of your property settlement). This is a big transition! Minimize the upset by keeping routines and getting your child's input. Make your new home your child's home. Keep enough of the same furniture and decor to make it feel like "home." Introducing new furnishings may be fun for you, but it's strange and unfamiliar for kiddos. Give your child time to adjust before changing every aspect of the home environment.

Be mindful, your child will pick-up on your anxiety about the divorce, too. Take care of yourself! Get regular exercise to blow off steam. Maintain a healthy diet without leaning on alcohol or drugs. Be honest with yourself if you're struggling emotionally. Seek help from a trusted advisor or divorce counselor who understands what you're going through. Lastly, stay organized and keep your attorney up to date.

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