No matter what their age, a child in a divorce often has strong emotions and a tendency to act out on those emotions.
A child in divorce sometimes:
- Wishes their separated or divorced parents would get back together again.
- Tries to do and say things to get their parents back together again—especially in the beginning of the separation.
- Wonders what it means to be a family if their parents divorce and live in separate houses.
- Hates it when they hear their other parent criticized.
- Wishes they didn’t have to leave one parent in order to spend time with the other parent.
- Wishes they didn’t have to go back and forth between two houses—especially if this involves a long car ride or if parents argue when they are leaving one parent to go with the other one.
What helps a child in divorce cope with the family divorce?
- Providing the opportunity for the child to talk with a family divorce counselor.
- Explaining the divorce in simple, short ways that are appropriate to their age.
- Listening to their questions, thoughts and feelings with empathy and respect.
- Letting them know their questions make sense.
- Understanding that children in a divorce will ask questions and express their feelings when they are ready to do so.
- Letting them know that the reasons for the divorce are not because of anything they said or did.
- Never criticizing the other parent or allowing others to do so in front of them.
- Protecting each child in a divorce from anger and arguing between their parents.
- Providing assurance that you will always be there for them.
- Accepting their feelings about each change that the divorce involves for them; encouraging children in divorce to talk about their feelings.
- Providing comfort to the child in divorce when they are sad or upset.
- Keeping as much as possible of their day to day lives the same for them.
- Letting children in divorce know what will change in their daily lives and what will not change.
- Making it easy for them to have they objects (toys, books, clothes, food, music, etc.) they are used to at each parent’s home.
- Being able to continue to spend time with extended family members they are used to seeing.
- Being able to continue their recreational activities and contacts with their friends as much as possible.