Most children come through divorce fairly well. The research has shown that most children of divorce show few, if any, long term difficulties from their parent’s divorce. The research has also has found that children of parents with an abusive marriage fair better post-divorce than they did during the marriage (Walsh, 2006).
It is important that, as a parent, you do your best to help your children through the divorce process. The best way to do this is to be intentional about limiting what your children hear and witness during your divorce.
Minimize the conflict between you and your divorcing spouse that your children witness the conflict. Have difficult conversations at a time, or place, when your children are not present. Your divorce is between you and your spouse. Avoid venting to your child about your divorcing spouse. By oversharing information with your children, you are putting them in a position where they must choose a side -which can make the adjustment to divorce more difficult.
Children need stability. As your marriage ends, it is important for your children to know that even though things may change, divorce does not change the fact that you are both their parents and love them.
Share some positive comments about your divorcing spouse to your children. This simple gesture (although not always easy), can go a long way towards letting your children know that it’s okay for them to enjoy their time with both parents.
Don’t go it alone. Peer support groups, like Divorce Care which provides services to both adults and children, can be extremely helpful. In many cases, individual counseling for either you or your children may also prove beneficial.
Jackie Dunagan, LMFT
References: Walsh, F. (2006). Strengthening family resilience (2nd ed.). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.