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7 tips to help reduce the pain of divorce in children

Updated on July 25, 2007

What can parents do to reduce the pain of divorce on children? This is the question that hopefully goes through the mind of families nearing, or in the middle, of a divorce. Separation of parents, and the common bickering associated with divorce, is very difficult on a child. However, there are a number of things you can do as a parent to reduce the disruptions in your child's life.

1. Transition from marriage partners to parent partners. Making the change from a husband-wife relationship to a co-parent relationship requires focusing on the present and on your child's needs. Start by letting go of past resentments, regrets and blame. Look for solutions!

2. Gain the other parent's trust for you as a parent by keeping agreements and promises you make. Rebuilding trust between divorced parents is essential, even though it may be difficult. It helps to create conflict-free zones in which children can thrive. Make agreements and promises you can keep. If for some reason the agreements need to be modified, notify the other parent as soon as possible.

3. Do not say degrading things about each other in front of the children. Children need to look up to both parents. When one parent says degrading things about the other parent, the child is caught in the middle. Divorce is a painful time for all those involved. It ay be very tempting to seek revenge through the children. Be aware of how much this hurts your children and avoid the temptation. Encourage the children to love and respect each of you. Respect for the other parent shows respect for yourself.

4. Respect the other parent's privacy. Don't use you child as a spy. It's easy to be curious about what is going on in the other parent's life. If you truly need the information for the safety of the children, simply listen to the children as they talk about their experiences with the other parent. Do not put the child in the middle of adult disputes. Children need to learn to have healthy boundaries. These are easily crossed by a parent's questioning and curiosity for themselves.

5. Children follow your lead. The greatest gift we can offer our children is to have a hopeful outlook on life no matter what our circumstances. All circumstance, no matter how difficult, offer opportunities to learn and grow. If you're feeling depressed, deprived, guilty, or angry, chances are your children will feel the same. If you have an optimistic, courageous attitude, your children will most likely be positively influence and learn from you. Try to focus on how you can make the best of your present opportunities.

6. Continued love and concern from both parents will help a child's self-esteem. It is important for the parent who does not have physical custody to maintain consistent and routine contact with the children. Sometimes a child and a parent who were not very close can use the divorce as a second chance to develop a more loving and closer relationship. Children who suffer the most from divorce are those who have their relationship with one parent disrupted by loss of contact with that parent.

7. Seek Divorce, Co-Parent or Individual Counseling. Divorce can be extremely painful, especially when it is beyond your control. Counseling helps to heal wounds and to recognize the opportunities that lie ahead. Counseling is also very effective to help you work towards an amicable parenting plan for the benefit of the children.

Divorces are rarely simple, and when children are involved, it is important to make them the first priority. Sacrificing a relationship with your child over a divorce settlement would be a huge mistake. For this reason, and many more, I hope these 7 tips for reducing the pain of divorce on children have helped you through the divorce process.

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