How to Manage Kids and Divorce

Are you a parent who is about to get divorced? If you have school-aged children, then you may be a little nervous about dropping the "D" bomb. Even if you've watched your friends and family work their way through it, now that it's your kids, it may not seem that easy.

Each married couple is different. Some unhappy couples can't help but argue constantly, and their kids are well-aware that there's trouble on the home front. Then, you've got the couples who manage to pretend to be a happy couple, and act like nothing's wrong in front of the kids and everybody else.

If you're one of these couples, telling the kids about your divorce may come as a shock, so brace yourself. Still, the home can be a battlefield and no matter how much arguing takes place, the kids can want their parents together no matter what; you just never know.

Dropping the 'D' Bomb to the Kids

Some family therapists recommend not telling the kids until a move date is set. In that case, you don't drop the divorce bomb until about three or four weeks before the move. If you have young children, you want to keep the information as simple as possible.

For instance, you can tell the younger child that there has been too much arguing in the home and mommy and daddy decided that everyone would be happier if they lived in two houses.

At this point, you have to expect lots of questions, and you want to answer them. If your child says that they want you both back together, praise them for being open about their feelings. Whether your child expresses anger, hurt, fear, or grief, make it safe for them to express their feelings and be understanding.

Here's some more advice:

  • Never put down your former spouse in front of your child, it only hurts their feelings.
  • Don't put your kids in the middle, and don't use them as the go-between. Communicate directly to your ex, and through email or texts if you need to.
  • One of the best ways to reduce your child's anxiety and stress is to keep it civil with your ex.
  • Keep scheduling, playdates, rules, discipline, and bedtimes consistent between the two households.
  • Sit together at dance recitals and soccer games (even with new partners) for the sake of your kids.
  • If you can, spend time together as a family. This way you're showing your kids that they have two loving parents who put the family first.

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