Tue 20 Nov 2007
The first rule in helping your children through a divorce, no matter what age they are, is open communication. The level of detail you share with them is dependent on their age and you will have to use common sense and judgment to determine what that is, but the key is to let them know that expression of their feelings is welcome. Realize that they may not be comfortable sharing directly with you. Children are extremely in tune to your emotions. They know you are in pain and don’t want to upset you any more than you already are.
Find an outlet for them, a third party that will listen and let them be completely honest. Friends of the family and family members may not always be the best choice for this, as the child may still feel some pressure to choose sides. For some kids all they need is to be able to relate with other kids who are going through the same thing. Try to find a support group in your area for children of divorce. For others they may need more, like counseling. You can visit the links at the top of this page to find more resources. The list is rather limited at this point but will hopefully grow in time. It does seem that people are becoming more aware of this need and are offering programs and other resources as a result.
It is important to keep those lines of communication open but be very careful not to bad-mouth your ex-spouse. No matter what they did to you, don’t forget that they are still your child’s parent and your child loves them. Your disagreements in your marriage have nothing to do with your children, so don’t bring them into it! It’s a very difficult thing to do, but if you can put your emotions aside for awhile and show your ex-spouse respect and work together to continue to raise your children, you will be doing your children a huge favor.