There’s no denying that going through a divorce is one of the most challenging events an adult can face. But for children, the impact of a divorce can be incredibly far-reaching.
Divorce affects children of all ages, whether they are toddlers or teenagers. Young children may struggle to understand the changes in their household and feel anxious or confused. Older children can be more prone to anger towards their parents and acting out in other ways.
While divorce may ultimately be the best decision you will make for your family, the reality is that a child of a contentious divorce has an increased risk of encountering additional hardships in their life, including:
- Impulsive or delinquent behaviors
- Conflicts with peers
- Poor academic performance
- Substance use
- Depression and anxiety
- Relationship problems later in life
Fortunately, despite these risks, children are also incredibly resilient when they get the support they need. Being aware of the potential challenges that your children can face and taking steps to help them cope can ensure that any hardships they face after divorce are temporary. Here are four strategies for parents that can help their children thrive:
1. Keep conflict away from the kids
It’s no surprise that research has shown children fare better post-divorce when their parents can cooperate and co-parent peacefully on their behalf. Ongoing conflict or even minor tension between parents can make children feel caught in the middle or like they must pick sides
2. Provide safety and reassurance
It’s crucial for parents to be warm and nurturing during one-on-one time with children during and after divorce. Negative attitudes toward the other parent and conflict at home can come with negative consequences, but positivity, supportiveness, and problem-solving can ensure children still feel loved unconditionally.
3. Keep things consistent
Parenting across two households can be tough, but parents who can maintain similar routines and rules can help make going back and forth less disruptive for children. Having a unified front with consistent expectations can ensure no academic or behavior problems fall through the cracks.
4. Talk to a professional
Speaking with a neutral third party such as a counselor, therapist or support group can benefit parents and children after divorce. For children, it may even be easier to work through their feelings with someone who isn’t their parents or family. A mental health professional can provide useful coping strategies and skills for navigating the stress that comes with divorce.
Divorce hits children hard, but that doesn’t mean they won’t bounce back. Parents who understand the difficulties their children may face can take action to ensure they receive the love and support they need to adjust to their new lives.