Divorce and children: breaking the news and helping them cope

Divorce is hard on children. Parents should be sensitive to their needs and treat each other with respect to help their children heal.

There is no such thing as an easy divorce, especially for couples who have children. Divorce has a significant emotional effect on everyone in the family. It can be particularly hard on children, who take comfort in the security and routine of having two parents at home. When this family dynamic is disrupted, it may result in emotional difficulties for years. However, parents in Texas and elsewhere may help the process of a divorce go more smoothly for children. When these sensitive issues are handled carefully, parents may assist their children in healing faster from the pain of a divorce and adjusting to their new situation.

According to Web MD, children of different ages react differently to their parents' divorce. Typically, younger children regress and become more emotionally dependent. The disruption of the security they knew may result in bedwetting, bedtime difficulties, the emergence of new fears and clinginess. Older children, on the other hand, may act out in response to their parents getting a divorce. They could experience trouble behaviorally or academically, become depressed or rely on the emotional support of their friends more than their parents.

Parenting tips after divorce

Breaking the news of a divorce is not easy, but the way it is done may make a difference to children. Younger children do not need much of an explanation, but should be told that they are still loved by both parents and the divorce is not their fault. A parent may say something like, "You probably notice that Mommy and Daddy are fighting a lot. We think we can get along better if we live in different houses, but we both love you very much and will always take care of you."

Older children may be given more information in an age-appropriate way. In fact, some may already understand that there was conflict during the marriage and be relieved that some of the conflict is over now that the parents are living separately. It is still important to reassure older children that their needs will be put first and their lives disrupted as little as possible. Divorcing parents should follow through on this and attempt to keep their children's routines as close to normal as they can.

Dealing with the ex

It may be difficult for parents to continue interacting with each other. However, communication and respect are necessary when handling visitation arrangements and co-parenting issues. Kids Health has provided the following tips for divorced parents:

  • Never complain about adult matters in front of the children, such as arguments between each other or child support disputes.
  • Do not speak badly about the other parent to the children. They should not feel as if they have to take sides.
  • Speak calmly and civilly to each other, and attempt to negotiate on parenting matters.
  • Include the other parent in activities involving the children, such as school events and teacher conferences.

It is not often easy for parents to continue dealing with each other after a divorce. Emotions may be bitter and it can be tempting to lash out instead of cooperate. However, the way parents handle difficult situations can have a lasting effect on children. To address these difficult emotional and legal matters, it may be necessary to speak with an experienced Dallas family law attorney.