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Divorce Squad ®

Helping Children Cope With Divorce

Learn five simple things you can do for helping children cope with divorce and to feel more stable in this new circumstance.

There is so much for children to process as their parents separate, and on top of that, often their schedule is being impacted. If you’ve both moved, they are adjusting to their new homes.  Or perhaps only one parent has moved, and they are adjusting to the feel of their home with the absence of a parent. Even though you may feel like you’ve lost your footing, it is important to provide a grounded environment and experience for your children. Here are some simple ways for helping children cope with divorce that you can use to ensure that your children feel anchored during this transition.

1. Make sure they know what their schedule is. My kids have had the same schedule with their dad and me for years, but I still will say to them as I’m dropping them off “Dad is picking you up today” etc. so they have a reminder. When they were little, I had a calendar on my refrigerator that was color-coded with days they were with their dad, and days they were with me, so they had a visual representation of how the time looked.

2. Make sure they have clean clothes at your house and the other parent’s house. This may seem obvious, but I promise you it’s not. The simple fact of them knowing they have clean clothes at your house will help them feel things are under control. And if you know they don’t have clean clothes at the other home, then consider sending them with some or dropping some off. In an ideal world, this would not be your responsibility but things aren’t always ideal and you want your kids to feel they are well cared for and in a good position no matter where they are.

3. Make sure they have some control over things in their schedule. This can be anything within reason that works for you. Maybe they get to pick what dinner is on Monday night. Maybe they decide what time they shower/bathe at. Come up with something for which you can let them be the decision maker.

4. Be consistent with your presence in your non-parenting time. If when you were married, you always showed up for your daughter’s soccer games, that isn’t something that needs to change (or should change) just because you are now separated or divorced. Show up as a parent in the same way you would if you were married.

5. Don’t disrupt the parenting schedule. Once you’ve rolled out this new parenting schedule, stick to it. Flipping and flopping days/nights/weekends has your children not feeling like there is any predictability in this new chapter. Exceptions will arise, but do the best you can. Your ex may not do a great job, but you can!

Children can adapt (and will!) with their new parenting time and schedule. Provide them with as much information, as much control, and as much consistency as you can. Starting with these basic steps for helping children cope with divorce will set a good groundwork and this next chapter can eventually feel great for you all!