How To Raise Children of Divorce

Fighting with kid around

In some of the old sitcoms like Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best, family life was portrayed as a relatively simple equation: a mother and a father living together with their children. While this may be one interpretation of a family, today, many other scenarios also exist. Children of divorce might be living with one parent, splitting their time between two, or living in a blended family. If you are a parent who is going through a divorce and are worried about how your children will cope with change, the good news is that most kids are resilient and will adapt to the changes. Here are some factors to consider when raising children after a divorce:

  1. Remember that most children will do better living in a home with one parent who is happy than two parents who are miserable and fight all of the time.
  2. Realize that, as with many other changes, it may take you and your children a while to adjust. This is to be expected.
  3. The fact that your children are upset about the decision does not mean it isn't the right thing for you and for them.
  4. Understand that although you and your partner have decided not to live together anymore, you still both have a commitment and responsibility to your children. Make sure your children know this as well. You are divorcing the other parent, not them.
  5. Reassure your children that they are not the cause of the divorce.
  6. Talk openly to your children about their fears and try to reassure them the best you can that they can still trust you.
  7. Try to minimize the uncertainty. Sometimes what children worry about can be worse than the reality. If children know what to expect, they may be inclined to feel more secure and adjust with greater ease.
  8. Prevent unnecessary changes. If you can maintain the children's school schedule and other activities as usual, you will provide an important degree of security. Particularly in times of stress, familiar routines and activities bring comfort to children.
  9. Remind your children of the positive aspects of the divorce, not just the negative ones. For instance, there may be less tension in your home and more quality time you can spend together with them.
  10. Be consistent with your discipline. Your children need to know that you are still in control in your home and they need to respect your authority.
  11. Ask your children to help you with some of the household responsibilities. Be sure to keep their roles appropriate for their ages and skill levels, though. When you face things as a team, you may even strengthen your family's bond.
  12. Read more about raising children after divorce. Two resources on this topic include Co-Parenting After Divorce: How to Raise Happy, Healthy Children in Two-Home Families by Diana Shulman and Child-Friendly Divorce: A Divorce(d) Therapist's Guide to Helping Your Children Thrive (Paperback) by Diane M. Berry.
  13. Be on the lookout for difficulties your children may be facing with friends and in school as a result of the divorce.
  14. Help your children address these issues if you feel able, or seek professional help when necessary.
  15. Remember to seek support for yourself if you are single mother or single father parenting.

 

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