Coping with divorce: How to help children deal with the change

Experiencing a divorce can be devastating for couples, and their children, but there are steps parents can take to help ease the trauma for their kids.

As anyone in Toms River who has been involved in one can attest, going through a divorce can be a difficult experience for everyone involved. This is particularly true for children, who often do not understand the causes of these drastic life changes. While parents cannot necessarily eliminate all of the hurt and confusion their children may feel, there are steps they can take to help ease their transition through the divorce.

Leave the kids out of the conflict

Before a divorce, and during the process, couples commonly have serious discussions and arguments. It can be important for parents to keep their children out of legal talks and disagreements. Since they often do not fully understand what is going on, letting children be privy to feelings of blame and negativity may increase their confusion about the situation and their feelings. Additionally, a child's relationship with one, or the other, parent may be negatively affected if he or she is made to feel that the divorce is that parent's fault.

Talk to the children about what is going on

Sometimes, parents may try to completely hide the fact that they are divorcing from their children. While children should be left out of conflicts, it is a good idea for parents to inform them what is happening. Children are more perceptive than parents may realize, and often have noticed that something is wrong. Talking about what is going on with them may help to ease any anxiety or stress they may be feeling.

When breaking the news of a divorce to children, it is important for parents to tailor the conversation to their child's maturity level and age. The focus should be on the children, and their concerns and feelings. Parents should reassure their children that the divorce is between the parents and will not impact the love or support that they will provide them. The Mayo Clinic recommends that parents also inform their children's doctors, teachers and school counselors about the divorce.

Keep communication lines open

Like adults, it can be helpful for children to talk about their feelings when experiencing a significant life change, such as a divorce. For this reason, it may be helpful for parents to regularly talk with their children about how they are feeling. The Huffington Post recommends that parents tell their children it is okay to have the feelings they are having. Furthermore, they should give them the opportunity to ask questions about the divorce and the child custody agreement, or to express any other concerns they may have.

Emphasize maintaining both parent-child relationships

Sometimes, children may feel like they have to choose a side in divorce, which may affect their relationship with one parent or the other. With few exceptions, however, it is important for children to have a connection with both parents. As such, it is advisable that parents make sure their children know that they want them to continue to have a good relationship with both of them. To this end, The Huffington Post recommends that parents avoid speaking poorly of their former partners in front of their children. Doing so could make a child blame one, or both, parents, which may impact their relationships.

Seeking legal counsel

For many children in New Jersey, the divorce of their parents is a devastating experience. Working with an attorney, however, may help divorcing parents to make the process as smooth as possible for themselves, as well as for their children. A legal representative may explain what they can expect, and help them to achieve amicable resolutions to their issues.