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Helping Your Children Deal with Divorce

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As any divorcing parent knows all too well, divorce takes a toll on the kids””even in the most amicable splits. From the emotional to the physical, children have many needs that parents must address, all while they struggle to balance their own emotions and make difficult decisions.

Recently, I came across an organization””Rainbows for All Children, Inc.””that helps parents and kids deal with the emotional toll of divorce. They’ve created a packet full of tips and insights for divorcing parents.

Rainbows for All Children is an international nonprofit founded to help children deal with grief, including feelings of grief stemming from divorce. They’ve put out a terrific packet chock full of practice tips for parents on helping their children cope during and after divorce. Here’s a link to a PDF copy of the packet.

A few things we found most helpful include a list (on page 4) of what children need””from the child’s perspective””during their parents’ divorce. Some of our favorites on their list include:

  • I want to be allowed and encouraged to love and be loyal to both of my parents
  • I am upset when I am interrogated about my time with my other parent
  • I need the transition between parenting time to be comfortable and flexible

Divorce impacts children differently by age, too, which means parents of two or more children may have to employ different strategies for each child as they help them transition. The packet includes a great list of the various reactions to divorce your kids might have, based on their age. Here are common reactions for a child 3 to 6 years in age and some recommended actions by family caregivers:

Age Level Reactions ”“ Child 3 ”“ 6 years

  • realize someone is missing in family unit
  • blames self; believe their actions control others’ behavior
  • identify with opposite sex parent
  • maintains fantasies of parent’s return
  • fears abandonment
  • yearning for absent parent

Reactions

  • regression in behavior, bed wetting, thumb sucking
  • irritable
  • aggression and hostility

Caregiver Responses

  • attention
  • nurturing through cuddling
  • explain changes that are occurring
  • teach appropriate ways to release hostility, aggression
  • reassure of love

This is a very helpful packet of information for divorcing parents. There’s also a great piece on creating a strong single-parent household and dealing with post-divorce reality, which brings its own share of ups and downs.

Divorce is never easy on the children involved, but the folks at Rainbows have put some strong tools in place to help ease the transition.