Make sure your child knows that both parents still love her.
Make sure your child knows the divorce is not her fault.
Help her understand that the divorce is final. There is nothing that can
Tell her that it will be okay to see the other parent.
Reassure her that it is still okay to love the other parent.
Discuss your child's questions and feelings.
Set limits on your child's behavior. She may act out to deal with her feelings.
Limits will help her feel safe.
What can I do for my child after the divorce?
Maintain as much stability and routine as possible.
Don't talk badly about the other parent to your child or in front of your
Tell your child that it's okay if she enjoys spending time with the other
Let your child talk to the other parent on the phone. Offer a private place
Don't ask the child for information about the other parent. Do not ask her
to send your messages to the other parent.
Avoid putting your child in situations where she is asked to take sides.
Keep encouraging your child to talk about her feelings. She may think of
new questions or have new feelings.
What are some tips for parents?
Turn to relatives, friends, counselors, or support groups for help.
When your child is dropped off or picked up by the other parent be polite.
Be on time. If the transition is less stressful for the parents, it will be
easier for the child.
Make sure your child is prepared for the visit. She should be clean, well
rested and fed, and sent with appropriate, clean clothes.
Arrange visits and make plans with the other parent before suggesting a
plan to your child.
Don't make promises to your child from the other parent.
Give important medical information to the other parent.
Trade important notes and information from teachers.
Respect the limits that the other parent has for the child. If you disagree
with the limits, talk to the other parent in private.
Encourage the other parent to attend special events such as holidays, sports
events, etc. Make plans with the other parent about the event.
Do not expect your child to take on the other parent's emotional, household,
or financial responsibilities after the divorce.
What is my child feeling?
Your child may be angry. Give her permission to say that she is mad at you
and allow her to say why.
She may feel guilty about the divorce, especially if she heard you fighting
about her. Help her understand the divorce is not her fault.
She may be scared that a parent will want to separate from her the same
that the parents separated from each other. Help her know that your love for
her has not, and will not change.
Your child will probably worry about you after the divorce. Reassure her
that you are okay. Her job is to take care of herself, not to take care of
Your child may act out at school or at home. Her grades may drop, she may
lose interest in her usual activities, or she may withdraw from friends and
Teachers might be able to support your child better if they know your family
has experienced a change.
Reassure your child that whatever she is feeling is okay. Do not force her
to act happy. This might make her afraid to share her feelings.
It may be difficult for your child to accept your new relationships. She
may worry about being disloyal to the other parent.
Building relationships with stepparents and stepfamilies may also be a trying,
slow process. Children may feel as if their space is being invaded.
Quick Answers The most important points to remember about helping kids cope with divorce
Communicate with your children.
Let them express their feelings.
Prepare them for change.
Maintain as much routine and stability as possible.
Keep your conflicts with the other parent away from your child.
Don't ask children to take on adult responsibilities.
Teach your children how to cope. Be a good example.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Children and Divorce.
1997 (cited 2002 January 23). Available from: URL: http://www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/divorce.htm
Canadian Pediatrics Society. When Parents Separate: How You Can Help Children
Cope. Caring for Kids. 2000 May/June (cited 2002 January 23). Available from:
KidsHealth. Tips for Divorcing Parents. (cited 2002 January 23). Available
from: URL: http://kidshealth.org/PageManager.jsp?dn=KidsHealth&lic=1&ps=107&cat_id=&article_set=21732
MayoClinic.com. Divorce: Helping Kids Cope. 2001 September 12 (cited 2002
January 23). Available from: URL: http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=HO00055&printpage=true
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