The first rule in helping your children through a divorce, no matter what age they are, is open communication. The level of detail you share with them is dependent on their age and you will have to use common sense and judgment to determine what that is, but the key is to let them know that expression of their feelings is welcome. Realize that they may not be comfortable sharing directly with you. Children are extremely in tune to your emotions. They know you are in pain and don’t want to upset you any more than you already are. 

Find an outlet for them, a third party that will listen and let them be completely honest. Friends of the family and family members may not always be the best choice for this, as the child may still feel some pressure to choose sides. For some kids all they need is to be able to relate with other kids who are going through the same thing. Try to find a support group in your area for children of divorce. For others they may need more, like counseling. You can visit the links at the top of this page to find more resources. The list is rather limited at this point but will hopefully grow in time. It does seem that people are becoming more aware of this need and are offering programs and other resources as a result.

It is important to keep those lines of communication open but be very careful not to bad-mouth your ex-spouse. No matter what they did to you, don’t forget that they are still your child’s parent and your child loves them. Your disagreements in your marriage have nothing to do with your children, so don’t bring them into it! It’s a very difficult thing to do, but if you can put your emotions aside for awhile and show your ex-spouse respect and work together to continue to raise your children, you will be doing your children a huge favor.

This new website, Postcards From Splitsville, offers a place “where children can share their divorce-related feelings anonymously and parents can get a new perspective on how this life-changing experience impacts their children’s lives.”

The website was inspired by Frank Warren’s, PostSecret. What a great idea to offer the same kind of thing for kids! Go check it out!

“Family ties, happy days” – Survey says: Teens and young adults prefer spending time with family!

“They’re my foundation,” says Kristiana St. John, 17, of Queens in New York. “My mom tells me that even if I do something stupid, she’s still going to love me no matter what. Just knowing that makes me feel very happy and blessed.”

Spending time with family is so important, especially in the wake of a divorce. Divorce shakes the family foundation to the core, so it is imperative that parents remain focused on their relationships with their children. Parents need to make sure their kids know that even though the family dynamic is changing, they are still loved unconditionally. Keep those lines of communication open and spend lots of quality time together!

I apologize for the long hiatus. After a somewhat eventful pregnancy and adjusting to life with a newborn baby, I’m finally getting back to a routine and hope to start posting again at least once a week.

I’m currently reading The Truth About Children and Divorce by Robert E. Emery, Ph.D. This is an excellent book! If you are in the midst of any stage of divorce and have children I highly recommend adding this book to your reading list.

In her article, Troubled relationships don’t have to end in tears, Katrina Tweedie cites some excellent points about dealing with divorce when children are involved.

“The potential for conflict is huge when feelings are still so raw, so put decisions about money or even where the children will ultimately live on hold until things have settled down.”

“Also, never underestimate your children’s capacity to understand and be fascinated by what’s going on.”

“Parents, even of young children, would do well to pay attention to their thoughts and give them some space to grieve.”

“Negotiating a truce is essential when children are involved but for many couples, suspending hostilities long enough to discuss their children’s future can be a challenge.”

Family mediation is one way to tackle this challenge, and one couple interviewed shares their experience and how mediation has helped them to communicate. This is so important because even though the marriage roles end after divorce, the parenting roles do not.

“People complain that divorce isn’t fast enough but when children are involved, it is vital that divorces be amicable which may require a conciliation process which will slow things down further.”

New Television Special Explores What’s Best For Children When Couples Split 

“In Kids & Divorce: For Better or Worse, airing Thursday, September 14, at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), host Dave Iverson explores the highly charged issue of divorce and asks what parents and the legal system can do to minimize the negative impact on children. Through a mix of in-studio discussion and documentary reports, this one-hour television special takes a closer look at innovative approaches to divorce education, debates whether or not current custody laws should be changed, and offers sound advice from nationallyrecognized experts who demonstrate how families can communicate, co-parent, and heal.”

I am thrilled to see a program like this. It’s a discussion that needs to happen and television is a great medium for it. This is one show I won’t miss!

Sending the kids back to school can be a stressful time, and even more so when the parents are divorced or separated. Be sure to decide ahead of time who will be responsible for what. Keep calendars in each of the parent’s homes and one in the child’s backpack to keep everyone organized. It’s important to not rely on the children for the passing of information and to keep them and their teachers out of the middle of any disputes.

Back-to-school tough for children of divorce

Adding this to my “books to read” list….

My Father Married Your Mother – Candid essays compiled on stepfamilies

The 26 essays in “My Father Married Your Mother” tackle the subject of stepfamilies from all directions… One thing that all the essays have in common is that they are brutally honest.

“I wanted them to only be honest because I thought the collection would only work if these were honest stories. To me the problem was that there was such deception about the experience of being in a stepfamily. People didn’t really want to talk about some of the deep feelings they have because they were not socially acceptable,” Burt says.

… Another common thread in the book is the theme of loss. “Every stepfamily is borne on the back of a loss. A child has lost a parent. Whether it’s through divorce or death or abandonment, there is a major loss that needs to be acknowledged,” Burt says.

Coping Strategies for Blended Families by Debbie Wilburn

“What Children Have Taught Me About Grief”
From “Healing the Hurt, Restoring the Hope” by Suzy Yehl Marta 

  • Grief is normal.
  • Children and teens who experience loss are wise beyond their years.
  • Grieving children and adolescents are frightened and overwhelmed by their feelings.
  • Both children and teens need adults to protect them and guide them through the grief process.
  • Grieving youngsters need to be reassured that they can survive the crisis.
  • Children want to talk about the loss event but hesitate to initiate the conversation.

In my few years of experience with grieving kids, I have found all of this be true. The wisdom they have at such a young age is the most amazing to me and I often end up learning a thing or two from them!