Tips for helping children cope with divorce

Parenting through divorce.
Unfortunately not all marriages last, and sometimes children have to suffer through their parents’ divorce. Family arguing in Colorado

This can be hard on children of all ages, and often parents – who are having a difficult time dealing with their own emotions – are at a loss as to how to minimize the negative impact on their children.

Here are some tips for how to make the transition easier for the whole family.

If you have questions about parenting through divorce and need help immediately contact Denver divorce attorney Cory Gallagher.

1. As much as possible, create a routine and stick to it.

Divorce can be a confusing and unsettling process for children, and they need as much stability as possible to get through it.

Having predictable schedules (such as a set bedtime, Mondays and Tuesdays with Mom, Wednesdays and Thursdays with Dad) can help them feel as if their whole lives are not spiraling out of control.

Do you have questions about child custody? Visit our Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time page.

2. Make sure children have an outlet for their feelings.

Children have a lot of feelings and concerns during a divorce, and often they are not comfortable being completely honest about them with Mom and Dad because they realize that Mom and Dad are dealing with their own problems.

A therapist or another objective third party (such as a teacher, pastor, or family friend) can be a great help during this time. Offering children a safe place where they can freely share any feelings or worries can help them deal with stress in a healthy way, instead of keeping their feelings bottled up inside, which often manifests as bad behavior later.

3. Start new family traditions.

One of the most difficult aspects of divorce for kids is losing family activities they looked forward to. Be sure to come up with new, fun traditions to take their place.

Did you have an annual trip to Disney World when you were married? This summer, try taking a single parent vacation with them to a new destination where you can make new memories.

Try new restaurants or new recipes, find new parks to visit. Instead of rehashing painful memories show them that their new lives will be full of double the new memories, and make it an adventure instead of a dreaded chore.

4. Put the children first.

This may seem obvious to any parent, but when you are dealing with a devastating blow, it is easy to get caught up in your own emotions and lose sight of the fact that your children are suffering just as much, if not more than, you.

When they are at school or with the other parent, you can cry, live in your sweats, fall apart, and vent to your friends and family. But when they are with you, put on a brave face.

Be present, talk to them, cuddle with them, do fun things with them, and most importantly don’t fight with or badmouth your ex.

Children don’t need the extra stress of being caught in the middle of a war zone so if you and your ex-spouse are not getting along, keep the peace in front of the children, and save the drama for when they are not within earshot.

It’s okay to let children know that you are hurting, but show them by example that just because life is not perfect does not mean that it is over; this lesson will serve them well for their entire lives.

5. Divorce is a difficult time, but it can also be an exciting time of new opportunities and fresh starts.

Keep the right perspective, lead your children by example, and you can get through this challenging time together.

Learn more here about the Divorce process in Denver 

10 Strategies For Helping Your Kids Cope With A Divorce
Divorce is an emotionally draining and difficult experience for everyone involved. This can be especially true for children, who may not be able to understand what is happening. Child Custody in Denver Colorado 3

When you are going through a divorce, it is vital that you keep your children a priority even if you are overwhelmed. Find yourself a pastor, counselor and other adult support if necessary, but don't forget to be there for her children.

1. Encourage Them To Talk.

Your kids need to understand that they are allowed to express their feelings, even if what they are feeling isn't positive. Children should be able to say that they are confused or angry or hurt.

When kids don't talk about a divorce, sometimes parents make the mistake of assuming they are adjusting just fine. In truth, kids who don't talk are usually suppressing their feelings.

They may be afraid of hurting you or your ex, of they may be harboring a sense of guilt or responsibility for the situation. Consistently ask your kids how they are doing, and remind them that they can tell you how they feel.

2. Give Them Someone Other Than You.

Your child may not feel free to talk about the divorce in front of you or your ex, but it is still important that they talk. Find your children a youth pastor, school counselor, therapist, or clergy member to talk with on a regular basis. Let your children know that anything they say in these sessions is confidential.

3. Don't Badmouth The Other Parent.

Avoid telling yourself that your child needs to know the truth, or that your child is mature enough to handle reality. No matter how angry your ex makes you, don't turn that frustration onto your kids.

If your ex has truly done something horrible, your children are eventually going to find out on their own. It only makes you look like the bad guy if you are the one who tells them.

Remind your kids that both parents love them and that a strong relationship with both parents is everyone's goal.

4. Protect their time with the other parent.

Your child's time with your ex should be a priority. Don't dig at your ex by making plans or changing the schedule at the last minute. Never make kids choose between time with the other parent and a fun activity with you.

Your child's time with your ex should be a priority. Don't dig at your ex by making plans or changing the schedule at the last minute. Never make kids choose between time with the other parent and a fun activity with you.

5. Don't fight in front of them.

When you fight in front of your children, it scares them. There is no reason for you to engage in conflict with your ex when your children can see or hear you.

It doesn't matter that your ex is a jerk, has just said something unbelievable or has just pushed you over the edge. Don't fight in front of your kids. If you love them, you will protect them from that kind of anxiety.

6. Tell them it's not their fault.

Children are self-centered. They believe that everything is about them, including the conflict between you and your spouse.

Even if you don't believe your kids blame themselves for your divorce, make sure you tell them that it's not their fault. Then tell them again every time the divorce comes up.

Kids need to know that what happened between you and your ex had nothing to do with them.

7. Don't ask about the other parent.

Put on a happy face when it's time to send your kids to visit the other parent. It's OK to tell them that you'll miss them, but don't do anything to make them feel guilty.

Also, avoid sending signals to your kids that you are worried about their well-being while with the other parent. If that truly is the case, speak to your ex or your lawyer, but not to your children.

8. Send them off with a smile.

Right now is the time to give up the idea of every situation being fair. There are going to be times when you will have to be the bigger person and make a sacrifice in order to protect your kids from stress.

This may mean agreeing to give your ex an extra day of school vacation or letting them stay one more night for a family celebration. It is more important that your children are spared anxiety than it is to make sure that everything is equal.

9. Be willing to sacrifice.

A divorce is going to shake up your children's lives. You can't do anything about that, but you can work to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Do everything you can to keep your kids in the same school and the same extracurricular activities as before. Make sure they get to keep their pets and still have opportunities to see their friends. Your kids are going to lose a lot in your divorce, but they don't have to lose everything.

Divorce changes the lives of every member of a family, and kids are no exception. Use these strategies to help your children come through your divorce with the least amount of pain possible. If you are honest and straightforward with your children without blaming or shaming your ex, you will build a foundation of healing for them.

10. Fight for consistency.

A divorce is going to shake up your children's lives. You can't do anything about that, but you can work to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Do everything you can to keep your kids in the same school and the same extracurricular activities as before. Make sure they get to keep their pets and still have opportunities to see their friends. Your kids are going to lose a lot in your divorce, but they don't have to lose everything.

Divorce changes the lives of every member of a family, and kids are no exception. Use these strategies to help your children come through your divorce with the least amount of pain possible. If you are honest and straightforward with your children without blaming or shaming your ex, you will build a foundation of healing for them.