How to help your child adjust to divorce

When children are part of a divorce, it can be hard on them, potentially harder than it is for the parents themselves. Parents who are separating may want to make the decisions that are best for their children, but children may not understand why this separation is happening at all. They may blame themselves or even think they have the power to stop you from divorcing. It's important to show your child how he or she will be cared for and where he will spend time, so you can comfort him during this difficult time.

Parents must create a parenting plan or time-share plan. Your child may react in a number of ways when this plan is discussed with them, so it's vital that you take time to explain and remain open to talking with your child about the changes.

Children go through a range of emotions, from shock and denial to being depressed over the divorce. This is normal. Eventually, most children reach a point of acceptance and will talk more openly about the fact that you and your spouse are separating.

Start by explaining that you and the other parent will be living separately. If you will both be in contact with your child, it's wise to reassure your child that he or she will see both you and the other parent. Try to explain the routine your child will be part of in the future. If it's not yet determined and your child is old enough to make suggestions, it's possible that he or she could give you input on what the child like to do as far as time sharing and custody arrangements.

Source: California Courts, "Children & Separation or Divorce," accessed Aug. 24, 2016

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