Helping Your Child Cope Through Divorce

If you’re going through a breakup and divorce is on the horizon, it’s probably affecting you emotionally and physically, even if it’s truly for the best. You may be having sleep difficulties, trouble concentrating, and trouble eating. You may be feeling angry, sad, anxious, helpless, and like you’ve lost control – these feelings are only normal.

If you have children with your spouse, there is a good chance they’re experiencing similar feelings, especially if they are aware of what’s going on. Children respond differently to divorce, and much of what affects that response is:

  • The child’s age
  • The child’s relationship with the other parent
  • Whether the home environment was stressful

If you’re reading this, our guess is that you’re concerned that your divorce will impact your child negatively. Whether this is already happening, or you anticipate it happening, fortunately, there are some coping strategies we can pass on.

Parenting During a Divorce

While the way you go about this will depend on your child’s age and maturity, but here are some places to start in regard to helping him or her cope through the divorce process:

  • Reassure your child that the divorce is not their fault. Children often blame themselves for their parents’ divorce, so if you hear, “It’s all my fault” or “If only I didn’t do this or that,” understand that such remarks are common.
  • Shower your child with love and affection during this difficult time.
  • Do not badmouth the other parent to your child as this can only cause confusion, resentment, and anger, leading to more sadness.
  • Find healthy ways to distract your child, such as taking them to the park, taking them on walks or hikes, going to museums, or anything else age-appropriate your child enjoys that can help get their minds off the divorce.
  • Keep things at home as stable as possible. If you can maintain a stable environment, that will be healthy for your child, but we understand that this isn’t always possible, especially when you have to move. Still, do what you can.
  • Let your child lean on close friends and family for emotional support.
  • Let your child vent to you; whether this means crying, being angry, or just talking for hours, it’s healthy to let your child express their feelings.
  • If you feel that your child is just too upset by the divorce and you don’t know how to handle it, we recommend seeking outside professional help from a therapist or counselor, someone who is specially trained to help children through divorce.

Next: A Child’s Custody Preference in California

To speak with a board-certified family law specialist about your divorce case, please contact Cutter & Lax today.