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How can I help my kids adjust to my divorce?

Your divorce is inevitably a time of change for everyone in your family, and it will take time for each family member to adjust. However, there are some actions you can take as a parent to help make sure your children have as easy of a transition as possible.

Explain the situation in a way your children will understand

One way you can help your kids adjust is by helping them to understand what changes are happening in your family. Often, children benefit from having both parents present while the divorce is explained. If possible, you and your spouse should provide a simple, yet straightforward explanation of the divorce and how it may impact your children’s lives. You should address where the children will stay and when they will see both parents. Try to avoid saying negative things about the other parent in front of the children both during the initial explanation of the divorce and at any point after.

Validate their feelings

Children of different ages have different abilities to comprehend divorce. Based on their ages and other factors, children may react differently to the change divorce brings to their lives and may have different questions that come up right away or at other times during the divorce process.

Young children may especially need to be reassured that both parents love them and that the divorce is not because of anything they did wrong. They also may need help understanding or talking about their feelings. Books about divorce can be a useful tool to facilitate these conversations. While older children may be better able to articulate their feelings, it is still important that they know they can come to you to talk.

Make the children feel comfortable in both homes

When it comes time to switch to two homes, it is important to make sure the children know what to expect and that they feel comfortable in both homes. Children should have plenty of notice before a parent moves out. It can also be helpful if children have time to visit the new home and participate with furnishing or decorating it. However, incorporating several familiar items in a new space can provide comfort.

The transition from one home to another can be stressful for kids. Children may need time to adjust after each transition between homes, so having a relaxing routine during those times can help ease tension. Some children may also benefit from having a calendar in both homes showing the parenting schedule.

During your divorce, your children will experience many changes. While most children adjust well over time, some of your actions can help ease this transition for them, allowing your children to more easily adapt to their new family structure.

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