Coping with divorce: Helping ease children through the transition

Going through the divorce of their parents can be difficult for kids, but there are steps that people can take to help ease them through the transition.

As many people in California, and elsewhere, are aware, going through a divorce can be a difficult experience for those involved, especially the children. This is because kids often do not understand why their parents are ending their marriage, and because such drastic life changes can be traumatic for them. While children will likely still have some emotional challenges, there are things that parents can do to help ease the transition.

Tell kids what is happening

Children are often more perceptive than their parents realize, or give them credit for. As such, if couples are heading for divorce, it is likely their children have noticed that something is not right. This may lead to increased anxieties and tensions. Therefore, it is advisable that parents do not try to hide what is going on from their kids. Instead, they should tell their children about their plans once they are sure of them.

When breaking the news of a divorce to their children, it is important that parents tailor the conversation to their age and maturity level. The Mayo Clinic recommends that parents be honest with their children, but refrain from giving them all of the specifics regarding the breakdown of the marriage. This may help them avoid making their kids feel like one parent is at fault or that they need to choose a side. It is also helpful if parents have this conversation with their children together, and reassure them throughout the talk that they had nothing to do with the decision.

Encourage children to communicate

Kids often experience a range of emotions, from anger to sadness, when learning that their parents are ending their marriage, as well as throughout the divorce process. Having frequent conversations with their children about their feelings may help parents get a picture of how they are coping with the transition. It may also help them to work through their feelings. While it is important that parents encourage their children to discuss how they are feeling, it is also crucial that they allow them to do so freely, and avoid getting mad or upset. Parents should also tell their kids it is normal, and okay, to feel how they do.

Leave the kids out of the adult conversations

Couples often have serious discussions, and heated arguments, leading up to their divorces. If their children are present for these conversations and fights, however, it may confuse them or cause them increased anxiety. Therefore, it is advisable that parents have these talks away from their children, and avoid fighting in front of them.

Due to feelings of animosity or blame at the end of a marriage, people may speak poorly of their former partners. While talking can be just as cathartic for parents as it is for children, The Huffington Post warns them against talking poorly about their exes to, or in front of, their children. Doing so could have a negative impact on their parent-child relationships, or on their kids' relationship with their other parents.

Working with an attorney

The longer a divorce is drawn out, the more difficult it may be for children in California to begin adjusting to this type of major life change. As such, may benefit parents to seek legal representation. An attorney may help guide them through the process, as well as negotiate agreements with their former spouses.