How do we help our children cope with a divorce?

How do we help our children cope with a divorce?

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Although life is based on constant changes that push us to adapt to improveSome of the changes that occur around us may involve an adaptation effort greater than others: such as loss of employment, death of a relative or a change of residence.


  • 1 All life is change
  • 2 What affects children and adolescents in a divorce process?
  • 3 How can we help children and adolescents process divorce?

All life is change

Throughout the different evolutionary stages we are going through, people develop resources and strategies to deal with the different changes that are happening: the school stage, interaction with new groups of colleagues and friends, extracurricular and extra-labor activities that involve us challenge, exploration of what we want to devote to adulthood, relationships, entry into the world of work, etc.

Our individual differences mark that not all people adapt with the same ease and speed to the same situation, but we have more or less skills / abilities to face the novelty.

However, what we can say quite strongly is that life experience gives us the skills to deal with various situations, skills that we do not have (or not so developed) in earlier stages of development such as childhood and adolescence .

One of the most difficult episodes for a child (and also in early adolescence) is the confrontation of divorce of their parents, since we must understand that their main reference and protection figures cease to constitute a unit, and that implies, initially, an important instability on an emotional level.

What affects children and adolescents in a divorce process?

The answer "everything" would be too general and not very clear. Children from the first years of life are able to detect changes in the relationship between their parents, as well as realize that coexistence and visits have changed (depending on the custody determined) with respect to how family functioning was initial.

On the other hand, the messages regarding the other parent also become different (they are omitted or, in the worst case, they can become “contemptuous”), which can increase the feeling of confusion and vulnerability in minors.

The lack of organization, communication and planning in parents can have an impact on emotional instability and behavioral problems in children, who seek to demand some attention so that their needs are not left unattended and, thus, to continue having parental support.

How can we help children and adolescents process divorce?

We must keep in mind that each child is different, as is each family, and we will have to explore the rules, communication and interaction between members in depth if we are going to do a more exhaustive psychological work, but as a guide for Parents there are some basic issues that can be useful when filing a divorce:

  1. Clarify that the child has nothing to do with the decision made. One of the main doubts that a child is usually martyred is to feel that he is responsible for the divorce of his parents. Explain in the simplest and clearest way possible what is the reason for the rupture of the relationship but that it will never interfere in your love for your child.
  2. Resolved doubts. Who am I going to live with? Do you have a new partner? Are you going to love me the same? What will happen to the school? Sometimes you will be tired because the process is not easy for you either, but children need to understand, and for that they ask. Try to eliminate the evasive and too ambiguous answers, the more honest you are, the easier it will be for that question not to be raised again.
  3. Eliminate negative messages towards the other parent. They do not always occur, which is something very constructive, but sometimes there are criticisms of the other parent that only increase the discomfort of the child in the middle of his two parents. You do not need to praise your child's father / mother if you are hurt by something related to the divorce process, but at least maintain neutrality for the child's emotional well-being.
  4. Facilitate a structure as soon as possible. If you have been able to agree on a regime of coexistence and visits without the need for a judicial procedure, it will be important that you transfer it to your children as soon as possible so that they can internalize the change more easily.
  5. Facilitate changes and communication with the non-custodial parent. Especially at the beginning, your children may want to visit the other parent or talk to him often when they are not together. Given that they will require some time to adapt to the new situation, try to maintain a relatively fluid communication with your ex-husband / wife so that children can easily talk to their father / mother when they do not meet him without this causing a problem. In ex-marriage.
  6. Show yourself as a team despite having divorced you. House rules, punishments and rewards, routines, decision-making ... It is important that, as far as possible, children continue to perceive their parents as a team even though they no longer maintain a romantic relationship, and that they may notice that residing in one domicile or another does not imply a drastic change with respect to daily functioning, which increases your emotional stability.


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