How to Help Your Child Through Your Divorce

(Written By co-op student, Ore Anibaba)
Witnessing your parents go through a divorce as a child can be one of the most nerve wracking and somber challenges in your life. This is why it’s especially essential that support and guidance from parents continues to occur during this possibly lengthy journey. This blog explores some of the ways parents can help their child while going through a divorce and how certain parental actions have impacts on their child.
1) Not Your Child’s Fault
When you’re separating from your partner, it’s not uncommon for children to feel as if the divorce was because of them. This may leave the child with feelings of mass guilt and the urge to try and fix a situation they didn’t break. Constant words of reassurance are going to help mitigate the child’s feeling of guilt and lift up some of the stress that might’ve been on their shoulders. Consistency is key; showing your love in different ways, such as physical affection or quality time, will help your child come to terms with the divorce, aiding in a smoother recovery process.
2) Providing Stability and Normalcy
Continuing with normalcy and moving forward with similar routines and schedules that were present before the divorce aids with the healing and adapting process. Keeping some sense of routine during the divorce can help your child have a sense of peace and stay calmer during this time of confusion for them. Your child will most likely feel more at ease when they know what to expect in their future; this means you should ensure that they know everything they need to know, taking age and maturity into account. Communication with not only your ex but also your child will help for a more seamless integration into the new lifestyle, which benefits everyone involved.
3) Let Them Talk
Your child may feel reluctant to express their thoughts and feelings because they don’t want to make you upset, but it’s important for you and your partner to foster an open and welcoming environment. Try to get to a position where you are actively listening to what your child has to say and avoid interrupting or jumping in to say something. At this point, openly communicating with your child that their feelings are valid will help them deal with and understand their emotions more effectively and make them feel less alone.
4) Be Civil with Your Ex-Partner
During the divorce process and separation, it’s crucial to avoid picking up fights with your ex-partner in front of your child or anywhere they could hear. You may have various feelings towards your ex; however, avoiding fights will help prevent the stress and anxiety of your child wanting to pick sides. If you and your ex are not arguing, it will help your child feel more relaxed about the transition. Being civil with your ex also helps keep some sense of normalcy which, as mentioned above, is imperative for a child going through a divorce.
5) Seek Professional Help
Your child may become so overwhelmed by the situation that seeking professional help may be in their best interest. A licensed professional such as a therapist may be able to help your child navigate through this situation in a way you might not be able to, and that’s okay! Look for a therapist if you can both afford it and feel it would be in your child’s best interest.
Supporting your child while dealing with a divorce is not an easy or straight forward process. It’s important for you to know that just because the healing journey may be longer than you would’ve expected, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something wrong. Remember, growth and adaptation take time, and the process varies from family to family.
Leanne Townsend Lawyer and Divorce Coach
Leanne Townsend is a multifaceted entrepreneur and attorney experienced in the areas of family law and domestic violence. She provides a full range of family law legal services in addition to running workshops and other programs to support people as they go through divorce.

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