With 40 to 50% of marriages in the U.S. ending in divorce, more and more kids are having to face the struggle and stress that comes from dealing with their parents splitting up. It’s no secret that divorce can not only be difficult for the couple, but the entire family. This is why it’s important for parents to give their child the support and care they need to come to terms with the divorce. So let’s explore a few ways divorced couples can help their children cope.
Be Open and Honest
Once the news about the divorce is shared, kids are bound to have questions and concerns. During this time, it’s vital to be as open and honest as possible. Parents should address these questions and concerns head-on — while there are some details younger kids may not need to know right away, kids should know as much as they want to. Whether they want to know why the divorce is happening, who they’re going to live with, or how holidays are going to work, parents should answer these questions as best as possible. If kids feel like they understand the situation better, they might have a better chance of coping with the split. Parents should be sure to not exclude their child and make them feel like their questions and concerns are inadequate.
Work With a Therapist
If a child seems to be taking their parents’ divorce particularly hard, a therapist may help. In fact, 93% of people said that they had more effective tools for coping with issues after they saw a family therapist. Both parents and children may benefit from working with a therapist. In therapy, families can work together to express their emotions in a comfortable and safe environment. This can be especially beneficial if parents are having a difficult time communicating with each other positively. An experienced therapist can ensure everyone’s concerns and thoughts are heard and dealt with as needed. It’s crucial to seek professional help if children are showing signs like lack of appetite or warning signs of depression. Even something like chronic sleep issues, which can affect between 50 to 80% of patients in a psychiatric practice, can be a sign that children are taking the divorce really hard. Children may benefit from speaking to a therapist on their own, allowing them to really understand the tools they have to cope with the split.
Keep a Routine
Divorce often disrupts a family’s normal routine. So now not only do children have to understand that their parents are no longer together, but their normal routine is changed, which can add to the stress. This is why it’s so important to try to maintain as normal of a routine as possible. Consistency is important — if one parent always picked the child up from school or activities, try to keep that the same, even if the child is no longer living with that parent. Parents should figure out visitation schedules and decide which parent the child will stay with when so that the child can get used to the new schedule as quickly as possible. And it’s important to be flexible and listen to what the child wants to do as well. Being consistent and taking the child’s wants and needs into consideration is important when establishing a new routine.
Divorce is hard on the whole family, and it’s important for parents to work together as best as possible to make it easier on the children. These few simple tips can go a long way when it comes to helping children cope with their parents’ divorce.