Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada, LLP
Menlo Park
San Ramon

Easing the stress of divorce for your children

As difficult as your divorce will be for you, it will be even worse for your children. You chose to end your marriage and lead separate lives, but they continue to love and need both of you. The fact remains that their lives will change, and they may experience a myriad of emotions about it.

They may feel responsible somehow and wonder whether they will continue to have time with each of you. They need some sense of security and safety during this time. In addition, they may have a lot of questions. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may want to take steps to reduce the stress and anxiety they feel.

What you can do to ease their minds

The fewer surprises your children get during this time, the better off they will be. You may consider taking the following steps to help ease their stress:

  • Tell them about the divorce together. If one parent simply moves out, they could doubt that parent's love for them.
  • Let them know that the marital relationship didn't end because of them. Instead, it was a decision between the two of you.
  • Explain how the divorce is not their fault. Sometimes adults just fall out of love and can't live together anymore.
  • Avoid "bad mouthing" the other parent.
  • Give each child the opportunity to react, ask questions and process the news.
  • Keep their routines as normal as possible, including doing chores and homework.
  • Don't try to buy their happiness with extra treats and gifts they wouldn't get under normal circumstances. This sets a bad precedent.
  • Give the children some independence, which gives them some sense of control over their lives in an otherwise unpredictable situation.
  • Avoid making any promises at this point. You may not be able to keep them.
  • Don't put your children between you and the other parent. If you need to talk to or give something to the other parent, do it yourself.

You may also want to consider the ages of each of your children when discussing the divorce. Children process information differently at different ages. You may tell a teenager the news differently than you would a toddler.

One more thing

The more you and the other parent are able to work out your divorce and child custody issues amicably, the less stressful the process will be for everyone. If you are unable to work out your issues without help, you could consider mediation. In any case, it may help to have some assistance through the process in order to protect your rights and reach a mutually satisfying settlement.

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