"" The Exhausted Mom: Going Through A Divorce? Help the Kiddos Cope

May 30, 2012

Going Through A Divorce? Help the Kiddos Cope

As a teacher, I have seen families break apart due to divorce.  I have been the "counselor" for kids who are going through this.  And I am a child of divorce.


Divorce can be a time of great stress, not only for the separating spouses, but for the children who depend on them as well. With divorce often comes a transition period for the family that may include moving homes, splitting time between parents and even meeting a parent’s new mate. These events can promote feelings of anger, anxiety, confusion and guilt.

“Divorce can have a huge impact on a child,” said Dr. Sara Rivero-Conil, psychologist and Clinical Manager of the Department of Psychology at Miami Children’s Hospital. While every family is different and have its own methods and timeframe to cope with a divorce, there are several things parents can do to make the adjustment easier on the children.

Encourage Communication
Communication is the key in a situation like divorce. Children should be encouraged to share their feelings—both negative and positive. “Make talking an ongoing process, be prepared for them to have questions and, though it may be difficult, keep your children’s feelings and opinions separate from your own,” said Dr. Rivero-Conil. It is imperative for the child to know that you are still accounting for their feelings during this process. Remind them that they are not at fault for the divorce.

Take the High Road
“How severely a child is impacted by a divorce is usually connected to the amount of conflict they are exposed to during the process,” said Dr. Rivero-Conil. “That’s why it’s important to keep adult feuding away from the children. Avoid using children as messengers or having them ‘spy’ to find out what is happening with the other parent.” How you support your child and relate to the other parent will be detrimental on your child’s adjustment to the changes that occur during a divorce.

“Far too often, parents who are feuding unintentionally make the kids feel like they have to pick a side, and this can be traumatic for a child at any age. Regardless of the situation, try to remain as factual and neutral as possible around your children,” she said.

Parents who are feeling angry or upset should ask a trusted family member or professional counselor for help, and keep from expressing strong feelings to the children. Offering children the chance to talk to peers whose parents have divorced can be helpful, as well.

Take Care of Yourself Too

While it’s important to encourage children to have a positive outlook during a divorce, parents must also remember that taking care of themselves is extremely important too.

“When you are in pain, your children are in pain too,” said Dr. Rivero-Conil. “Seeking the support of family members, friends and even a professional therapist can help you stay strong for yourself and your children. Divorce is certainly not easy but patience, open communication and a strong support system can make the process better for the whole family.”

Are you going through a divorce?
How do you help your child/children through stressful situations?

For more information, visit Miami Children's Hospital



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