Learn to Minimize the Negative Effects of Divorce on Children

Many parents will face a separation, divorce or end of a partnership. There is a lot of information about the effects of divorce on children but the reality is that the children need not suffer major problems as the result of their parent’s divorce.

Children are resilient and forgiving. With the right attitude and support the problems can turn into opportunities enhancing a child’s ability to cope with adverse situations, inspire higher levels of responsibility and learn to empathize with other’s feelings.

Often a divorce is preceded by much chaos, fighting, unhappiness and general lack of a stable, dependable environment. Children are like sponges, they absorb the turmoil and upset that is present in their home. By the time parents decide to divorce, children have already suffered from the difficulties in the parent’s relationship.

The most important criteria for a good outcome in a divorce is that parents be willing to partner together for the benefit of the children. Granted this can be difficult because of the unresolved issues between them. But, keeping the best interest of the children foremost in the dissolution of the marriage is paramount to a positive outcome. Parents can decide to divorce each other but the children are in most cases attached to both parents and have virtually no say in whether or not a divorce occurs. They are literally at the effect of the choices of the adults and the courts.

In order to minimize the trauma there are some positive steps parents can take.

1. Tell the children as simply and as truthfully as their ages dictate about the divorce. Avoid placing blame on one or the other parent. You may feel like the victim, but remember the children are loyal and should not be forced to choose one parent over the other. They need both.

2. Educate yourself on what kind of reactions to expect from children of different ages. The older the children, the more likely they will have stronger emotional reactions to the split.

3. If you find your children are having major difficulties in coping with the idea of the divorce you might consider going to a counselor together to have a neutral place to discuss how everyone is feeling.

4. Prepare you children in advance for the spouse’s departure, taking things from the house, etc. It may be a good idea to have an outing scheduled so that the children are not home to watch the departing spouse pack and leave.

5. As much as possible parents should not be critical of each other in front of the children. On the other hand, don’t protect them from the truth.

6. Make an effort to work out custody issues for the benefit of the children, and not out of anger.

7. Recognize that although the family players are different you are still a family.

8. Both parents should consider taking a co-parenting divorce class to help with the behavior issues that may arise from the divorce and to work together better to raise your children.

9. If you are the departing spouse, work to make you new home as welcoming as you can to your children when they visit.
 
10. Expect things to improve.

To help your children cope with the divorce, it can be very helpful for both parents to take class that can help with divorce and child custody issues and a shared parenting class to help find common ground so you can parent their children together effectively. Or, if one parent finds they will be parenting alone, there is online positive single parenting class that addresses the particulars of raising children alone.