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How to Comfort Children of a Divorce

Comforting Children

Even the most amicable of divorces is a complicated matter; however, it can be particularly challenging when children are involved. With the numerous legal, financial, and logistical issues that surround a divorce, the well-being of the children can often get lost in the shuffle. Even when the parents are discussing child custody, sometimes, the emotions of the children are overlooked. While a couple going through a divorce may disagree on many issues, both parents only want what is best for their children. What are some of the key ways that parents can comfort their children as the divorce process unfolds?

Remind the Children that the Divorce Is not Their Fault

Children are often confused when their parents are splitting up and it is possible that the children may think that they have done something wrong. It is important for parents to step in and remind the children that the divorce is not their fault. Kids who blame themselves may sink into a depression and lose focus on their school, sports, and social life. Ensure that they understand that they have not done anything wrong and that their parents still love them. This will help them get through the situation as unscathed as possible.

Think About Age-Appropriate Conversations

Kids of all ages can be a part of the divorce and it is important for parents to tailor the conversations that they have with their children around their developmental age. While a child in elementary school may not be able to fully process what is going on, a teenager is better equipped mentally to process the various facets of a divorce. They may even be able to voice their own opinion and help the process move smoothly. Parents should try not to ignore the issue; however, they also need to think carefully about how best to explain what is going on to their children. If the family house is being sold, or if one spouse is moving out to his or her own home, it may be a good idea to involve the child or children in the process. They can participate in touring houses or apartments. Once a new residence is selected, the child or children can participate in selecting furniture for their new room and in how their new room will be decorated. This can get the child excited about their new place to live when they are with that parent.

Children Need a Safe Haven

While the divorce is playing out, it is important for parents to find a safe place where children can take a break from everything that is going on. This may be the house of a grandparent, cousin, or even a close friend. This should be a place where kids can be kids instead of worrying about what is happening to their family. This is also a great way to ensure that the lives of the children do not come to a stop socially while the divorce plays out. Most importantly, children should not be involved in the parents’ arguments and disagreements taking place as part of the divorce. It is common for parties to get angry and frustrated with one another, but the child should not be involved in that aspect of the divorce. What’s more, the parents should not use their children as messengers to convey information from one parent to another, nor should they be asked to spy on the other parent and report back information that may be private. The children should also not be made aware of the parties’ financial situations, to include spousal and child support payments regardless whether they are being paid pursuant to an agreement or Court Order or whether the paying party is late on payments. It is important to always keep in mind that the children should be insulated from the divorce process as their happiness and wellbeing should always be top of mind.

Article updated October 8, 2020.

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