Survival Guide to Helping Kids Through Divorce
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One of the most painful aspects of divorce is the impact it has on your children. Research shows that divorce itself isn’t necessarily bad for children but that parental conflict can negatively affect a child’s well-being. We’ve assembled articles that help you navigate a divorce without harming your children. Millions of kids turn out well adjusted and happy despite their parents’ divorce—yours can, too!
In the HBO series Divorce, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Frances and Thomas Haden Church’s Robert are, obviously, getting a divorce. Although they no longer live together, they have struggled with how to tell their children. Their first plan, to tell them in a restaurant, fails as Robert appears unwilling to actually share the news. Finally, they sit down with the children at the kitchen table and tell them. But the children are not surprised; they tell their parents it was obvious. They have already come to terms with the situation and do not ask any questions.
Several years ago when Chicago-based clinical psychologist Leigh Neiman Weisz was running divorce groups for children, she recognized something most of the kids had in common: they felt they had done something wrong and that that was why their parents were getting divorced.
My parents are approaching their 50th wedding anniversary, so as a Solo Mom of a 14-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl, I haven’t walked in my kids’ “children of divorce” shoes. In the seven years since their dad and I separated, there have been ups and downs along the way. Ups and downs are expected for all on the roller coaster of adolescence, but I wonder (and worry), How many extra downward dips has our divorce added to their rides? Will these extra dips leave a long-lasting imprint on my children? Will the efforts I’m making now minimize the fallout later?
The first time I heard James TW’s song, “When You Love Someone,” I felt a door open into past pain. The lyrics, addressed to a son who is struggling with his parents’ divorce, brought me right back to the moment my ex-wife and I split up. The ache of a failed marriage filled my heart, but more acutely, I felt guilt and concern about the impact the changes in our family would have on our sons (who were seven and nine years old at the time).
We all love to see our kids scream with excitement and laugh out loud. It’s one of the true joys of being a mom. But even more important, I believe every mom wants to help her children thrive and be the best they can be. We, as moms, are constantly offering direction, listening to our kids’ needs, teaching them right from wrong, and guiding them when they get into trouble or perhaps make bad choices.
Are you going through a divorce? You don’t need to feel alone. Join our community—especially the Divorce Tribe—for support and connection.
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