Monday, May 2, 2011

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

All children feel a strong sense of loss when parents separate or divorce. It is not unusual for children of any age to rebel, misbehave, or become withdrawn. They cannot understand all the issues involved in a divorce, and may feel confused, frightened and worried.

If you are going through a divorce, be aware of your child’s losses and offer them the support they need. Divorce is a transition that usually last one or two years - before, during and after the divorce.

Whether you are the residential or non residential parent, start by reassuring your children that you love them and that they are not to blame for the divorce. Encourage them to share their questions and any feelings they may have about the divorce, listen and be patient. Sometimes it may be difficult to focus on your children as you go through your own transition, but parenting in a loving, attentive way is one of the most important things you can do.

In addition, provide a safe, warm and loving environment in the homes of both parents, if possible. Have children keep clothing and personal items in both places so they feel a sense of belonging and don’t need to pack a suitcase or backpack every time they transfer from one home to another. Find some books at the library that talk about divorce appropriate for your child’s level of understanding and read them together.

Don’t depend on your children for emotional support. Instead, seek out help from friends, family or a professional counselor. Children are counting on their parents to care for themselves as well as they care for their children.

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