The “Clean Break?” Divorce and Children

Monday, April 22, 2013

Can a divorce ever be a “clean break” for children? This is still debatable. Some experts believe that children may wrestle with their parent’s divorce, even through adulthood. But there is new evidence which also points out children may feel “relieved” once their parents separate, if tensions have been high.

Most experts agree that two factors influence how well children cope with divorce:

The level of hostility and conflict between parents


Parental acceptance and adjustment to the break up

Use these nine tips to help minimize the negative effects on your kids:

1. Don’t confide in your children about adult concerns, like disagreements or finances.

2. Don’t “bad mouth” your ex.

3. Don’t use your kids as “spies” on the ex.

4. Minimize other changes in your lives. Try to keep regular schedules.

5. Remain the parent you have been, firm and consistent.

6. Encourage the kids to call the other parent, for school updates, etc.

7. Be open to other resources, websites, classes, for you and your children about divorce.

8. Do get help for your child if they’re having difficulties. A therapist can be a safe neutral person.

9. Same for you and your ex. If you can’t talk without hostility, seek a therapist.

With all parties present, let kids know how difficult this is for everyone. Allow children to express themselves with tears, anger, or other natural reactions. Remind the kids that the divorce WAS NOT THEIR FAULT, as kids tend to blame themselves. Encourage the kids to always know that you’re available to talk about anything, but especially about this. Those younger don’t need long sessions, but simple explanations. All children will treasure time together, especially if you take time to enjoy the things that THEY are interested. Remind them they are loved by both parents, no matter what.

Carol Pool, MSW (Taken from Isolina Ricci, PhD,
a family therapist and author of Mom’s House, Dad’s House.)