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How Can I Help My Child Through a Divorce

If you’re a parent who has decided to divorce, one of the first questions on your mind is surely how to help your child weather this major change. There’s no denying that divorce can be hard for children (and everyone). It may help you to know that for most children, the first two or three years after a divorce are the hardest. Things often improve after this adjustment period. And while some children from divorced homes do experience problems, like issues at home or behavioral and academic challenges, many do very well.

A lot can depend on how parents manage the transition to this new stage in the family’s life. This is where you come in. Here are some research-backed, expert tips that can help make divorce easier on your child.

After the initial decision to split:

As the separation and divorce proceed:

After the divorce is finalized:

Remember, it’s normal for your child to experience and voice grief, anger, anxiety, and frustration after a divorce. (It can also be normal for a child to feel somewhat relieved if the marriage was high-conflict.) At times, some children may need help processing their feelings about the divorce with a therapist or counselor. This is not a reflection on your parenting skills.

It can seem like a lot of work to go through a divorce while shielding your child from negativity and maintaining a civil relationship with your ex-spouse. However, the payoff will be great. Your child will feel more secure during this challenging time. He or she will learn about problem-solving and love from watching adults come through a difficult period with grace and maturity. And most of all, he or she will continue to have two loving, present parents working together in his or her best interest—an advantage that will last a lifetime.

By Carol Church, lead writer, SMART Couples, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015). Adjusting to divorce. Retrieved from

American Psychological Association. (2016). Healthy divorce: How to make your split as smooth as possible. Retrieved from (2016). Coparenting tips for divorced parents. Retrieved from (2016). Children and divorce: Helping kids cope with separation and divorce. Retrieved from

Kidshealth. (2016). Tips for divorcing parents. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. Children and divorce: Heling kids after a breakup. Retrieved from

National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. (2016). Coparenting after divorce. Retrieved from

National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. (2016). Minimizing the impact of divorce on children. Retrieved from

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