Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making Divorce Less Traumatic for Kids

Parents can make divorce less traumatic for their kids by following a few tried and true tips.  Some parents have been able to reduce the negative effects of divorce on their children…and ended up raising kids who grew into really nice, responsible adults. Sadly, we’ve also seen the other side of the coin…parents who unnecessarily make things much tougher for their children and themselves. 
Listed below are some tips that up the odds those children of divorce will grow up well–adjusted, instead of angry, resentful, and irresponsible. 
Tip #1: Assure your kids that the divorce is not their fault.
Children, especially younger ones, have a strong tendency to blame themselves for the divorce. What a horrible burden of guilt to bear! From you and your former spouse, they need to hear the following message over and over:  Some kids blame themselves for their parents getting a divorce. It was not your fault. We love you.
Tip #2: Avoid bad mouthing your former spouse…even in subtle ways.
As we all know, small ears hear more than big ones!
Kids need to know that it’s okay to love both of you. Don’t place your child in a loyalty conflict by subtly suggesting that they should not love the other parent or have fun when they visit them. One father made this mistake in a very subtle yet damaging way.  Each time he picked up the kids at his ex–wife’s, he would greet them with a worried look and ask nervously, "Are you guys okay?   Did your visit go okay?"
It wasn’t long before the kids started to believe that they weren’t supposed to have an "okay" time at Mom’s house. Oftentimes, these more subtle jabs are the most powerfully damaging.
Tip #3: Don’t waste time and energy trying to "convert" your former spouse to your parenting style.
Some divorced parents waste precious time and energy fighting a never–ending control battle with their former spouse over how to parent the kids.
Children adjust to different parenting styles, as long as their parents aren’t manipulated into giving in or getting angry. When your kids say things like, "But Dad lets us," experiment with saying the following while not backing down:  You’re pretty lucky to have two parents who are different. Thanks for letting me know.
Tip #4: Don’t hesitate to seek qualified professional help.
Our children will never be healthier than we are. The trauma of divorce can result in major financial stress, lost friendships, depression, low self-esteem, anger, etc. A skilled therapist can help you and your kids move on to happier times, instead of getting bogged down in the pain.
While divorce is certainly very difficult for kids, utilizing these easy–to–learn techniques will help ease the stress during this adjustment period. Start building a happy future by getting started today.
Submitted by:  Joanne Nelson, Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri Regional Coordinator; (with information from

No comments:

Post a Comment