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Tips for Helping Children After Divorce

Photo by Victoria Borodinova

Divorce takes a toll on everyone, but it can be especially challenging for kids. It’s not easy to see parents fight or adjust to life after one parent has left the home. How can you ensure your children are supported during this upheaval with divorce rates rising?

Listen to them

Listening to your children is a significant part of supporting them after divorce. When kids feel like their concerns aren’t being heard, they may end up bottling up their emotions and letting resentments fester. Be sure to listen to your children and ask open-ended questions, so they feel like they have a safe space to talk. Also, be mindful of your tone when speaking to your children. Avoid using words like “should” or “shouldn’t” when discussing their feelings. These words put kids in a place of feeling guilty or wrong, which can compound feelings of sadness and loss.

Set healthy custody terms for both parents

Making sure children have access to both parents where possible is vital to ensure continuity of their life in a way that supports their emotional well-being. Talking about how to best split custody or who will retain primary custody is essential for all parties. A Child custody lawyer can help you to negotiate visitation rights.

Avoid negative talk in front of children.

If your divorce isn’t amicable, avoid negative or rude talk about your ex in front of the children. Those feelings are adult issues that need to be worked out in a way that doesn’t impact the children or create a hostile environment. Not all divorces are easy, and there has been a major communication breakdown in many cases. But keeping your children out of this will protect them in the long run.

Be honest

Kids are often very intuitive and will pick up on their parents’ separation even if they’ve been told it’s a “discussion” or a “break.” It’s essential to be honest with your children about your feelings surrounding the divorce, what they can expect, and how they can stay empowered. Let them know they don’t have to choose between parents and they don’t have to stay at one house or the other. This can help them feel empowered and not like they have to take sides between parents. Tell your children what you know about the situation. Let them know when you don’t know something and how they can get the answers they’re looking for. This can help kids feel like they have a voice and that you’re open to their questions. If a child has expressed worry about the divorce and you’re afraid you’ll hurt their feelings by being honest, you can always say something like, “I know this is hard, and I don’t want you to worry.” This can help your child understand that they needn’t feel guilty for having these feelings.


Divorce is hard on everyone, but it can be especially difficult for children. You must be there for your kids as they adjust to this new reality. Listen to their concerns and questions, set healthy terms for both parents, and be honest with them about the situation, so they know they don’t have to feel guilty for being upset.

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