Every divorce has an emotional toll. Divorce is stressful and disruptive. It’s natural to come out of divorce full of anxiety, doubt, stress, and grief. It takes time to recover. And if you’re a parent, you’re responsible not only for your own healing, but for your child’s recovery as well.
Everyone knows that divorce is rough on children. But, not everyone knows how to help their child recover as quickly and fully as possible.
Most children recover from divorce
Divorce often catches children off-guard. Depending on their ages and maturity, your children might not have understood that anything was deeply wrong until you and your ex were no longer living in the same home. Still, the odds are in their favor. Most children recover fully from their parents’ divorces. The negative effects are largely temporary.
Of course, no one wants their children to suffer, not even for a year or two. So, it’s worth noting there are several steps you can take to help them cope with their suffering:
- Minimize your conflicts with your ex. Parental conflicts are overwhelmingly the biggest problems as children deal with divorce. They put children in the emotional middle and ask them to choose sides. They rip kids apart. Every step you take to reduce conflict will reduce your child’s immediate stress and help them form better relationships later in life.
- Allow your children to express their feelings. Researchers remind us that it’s important to understand what your children are feeling. They don’t have the same tools to process their emotions. You want to reassure them the divorce wasn’t their fault, and you want to acknowledge their grief and confusion. You don’t want them to bottle it up.
- Find grown-up outlets for your grown-up feelings. Your children need your support. They aren’t an appropriate audience for your grown-up thoughts and fears. You need other adults you can count on. Divorced parents want support networks to help them gain the emotional stability they need to offer their children.
- Maintain consistency. The better you can maintain your children’s daily routines, the more secure they’ll feel. Divorce is a time of stress and uncertainty. Familiar schedules, structures, and activities can help your children regain their sense of safety and comfort.
If you and your ex are working together as co-parents, it may be worth discussing how the two of you will work together on these issues.
Your divorce shouldn’t be your child’s problem
Divorce has an emotional toll, but it shouldn’t be your child’s job to pay it. Taking the right steps after your divorce can help ease the burden and set your child on the path to recovery.