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Complex Problems

Strict or coddling? Neither is great for kids during divorce

Parenting issues often come up during divorces, because children are often struggling to understand what’s happening and how to cope. During a divorce, parents usually take one of two stances.

One is to coddle their children, hoping that being overly attentive and giving their children all they need will take away the pain or frustration of the situation. Another is the complete opposite. It’s an authoritarian approach in which the parents believe their children should “get on with it” and move forward, just like they are.

Neither of these approaches is really the best for children. Why? They need structure and support. A parent who coddles them isn’t allowing them to truly express their emotions and isn’t helping them cope with disappointment. An authoritarian parent is strict and makes it hard for their children to communicate their feelings with them. Having high expectations from children who may not yet be developed enough to express themselves can create a volatile situation.

How can parents be most helpful to children going through divorce?

When you’re going through divorce, remember that your children may need you to help them, too. Give them ample time to open up with their feelings. You can even tell them that you’re giving them a certain time each day to talk about how they feel. Help them express themselves in positive ways and to cope with emotions they may not understand. This will do much more for them in terms of confidence and help them move forward more easily as the divorce continues and changes happen.